the morning when she finds the tomb empty leaps from her the way the first spry geyser sprang from the Titanic. She bangs her knee and ducks to look again. Her adviser, John, warned her it was dangerous to come. Holed up behind locked doors, the gang of guys who claimed to love him. She runs her thumb across the ledge where his dead body lies.
Or rather doesn’t. Her heart’s a cypress forming a final growth ring, final grief: his body gone, his lithe hand, the small scar from the sharp chisel. To what can she say yes? Who is she now? Where to put belief? Her cry gashes the fragile morning air.
On the gallery wall in Paris you see a splendid life-size thigh, how it’s tapering to a calf and pointed toe. It’s a Degas ballerina who pulls light on like a stocking.
The ornate gold frame says, Look at this. You’re here alone, so why not stay, go down to the very root of light, practice patience? Sinking in, you linger all afternoon.
On the subway home, you see and praise legs. Bare. In jeans. Thin or superbly plump. Recall your lion-footed table. Praise this leg of your trip, learning to see. Joy trumps itself: Allegro, legume. The wonder: your own tibia! The miracle: your own leg to stand on!
The organ swings into the invitation hymn, slinging us around the known world toward the apogee of surrender, Oh Muse of Scripture, Muse of Choice, Muse of the Sawdust Trail. I look at my hand resting on this oak pew, shaped like Asia, a million cells teeming, blood pumping, going on with its normal irreligious, hungry life. Things are being decided. We are singing Just As I Am, the fourth verse, over. My right hand listens to the soprano next to me, balancing on her catwalk of steep chords. It longs to fly up to that soaring obbligato. Just raise your hand, the Evangelist calls, if you want God to use you on the mission field. What he means: when God wants to find you, He will know where to look. My right hand twitches, tugging skyward on its kite string. What I have been taught: marks on paper, numbers, letters, postulates, break down. The whole repertoire of my life has been practice for this moment. I try to make myself restful and empty, nothing but an interval before the generous right hand, and the sinister left, decide.