Arts+Culture

Arts+Culture

We Are the Eighth Day, © Melanie Weidner

Poetry

The well

I could say you are flame, but you are not flame,
though you race over my limbs
like fire in grass.

I could say you are cloud or vapor or mist, but unlike
these you do not thin or fade
but stay.

I might call you the water that builds unawares in my eyes,
the first light of dawn that ignites the trees,
but then there is the night

when I see differently and you are even more powerful.
You are more steady than any feeling,
and no thought that enters my mind has the dark, rich odor

of forest where you run clear like a stream in my heart.
I can taste you in these words as they form on my tongue.
Yet you are the catch in my voice when I cannot find words

and the quiet spreads through my body intimate and warm
and needs no other language.
Like water to fish, air to bird’s wing, so you to me.

But who are you really?











Poetry

Please grant mercy, Ella Webb!

Sealed within a windowed tube
that struck me as a giant
chrome-and-ivory jumping bean,

the girl my age smiled
thin as airplane model tissue
through me to her end.

ELLA WEBB! THE GIRL IN AN
IRON LUNG! PLEASE HELP ELLA
WITH YOUR GENEROUS DONATION!

prayed the sign tacked on her tiny tent.

Though scared to drift too near
on the noisy festive sprawling floor
of the ancient armory, I spied dark hair surround her

aging newsprint-yellow cheeks,
feeling guilt with every easy stride
50 years ago this week.

Maybe we gave a quarter.











Poetry

Like rocks

A Desert Father said
that we should be like rocks
in the face of suffering.

I sit on ancient weather-beaten boulders
and hear the wind scraping their surface.
Some have deep crevices, one a crater with a rippling pool.

My face fragments and distorts in its reflection.
Someone has placed small stones neatly around its perimeter,
a gesture of gratitude for an implicit understanding.

Baboons bark in the distance.
I look for them, but I do not see them.
No one ever does in this valley.

I lie back and soak my hand in the chilling water
while rubbing my other hand gently
over the moss-stained roughness of these old silent proprietors.







Poetry

Pew 13 seat 7

The girl in the pew next to me
is doing her math
between prayers. I peek
at the certainties on her page yearning
for a time I knew clearly
that the sum of e to the minus x
from nothing to the infinite was
always and everlasting one
and I could prove that everything that rises
   must converge.

Now the slow hardening of my brain's
arteries has rubbed those crisp
clear certainties until they're
ragged with doubt and experience.
Was the sine the one
next to me over over the big one?
Or the opposite?
Was the answer a precise
one or pi,
that vague pipe dream that
we've chased to 51 billion places
and still don't know exactly?

I chant my beliefs and wonder
what proofs I am
seeking here. Add up the blessings
of the world and subtract
the sins and you've got
what? Add up my own
petty closed set of real
and imaginary without limit.
Can it ever exceed zero?

The mass is over and the little
girl kneels in the aisle
crosses herself,
the sign of our shared belief
in a world beyond or
the mathematician's plus sign,
the sign that says with a certainty:
something more.





Music

Joyful noise

Spanning the sonic globe, this roundup of recent albums highlights compelling music in different genres. Alongside some popular names are lesser-known artists who deserve notice. Only some are explicitly Christian. What caught my attention were challenging lyrics, an uplifting spirit—or simply a joyful noise.