Saul, you thug who once draggedbelievers through the streets,flinging them from their beds so hardtheir arms popped from their sockets,how like a dying child you look,your stomach caved in from fasting,lips blistered with fevered prayer.You reach into the darkness, tremblingfrom the exhaustion of relivingthe scene: The light shot out of the sky—no, it flared from the stones—no,Jesus, your hair was on fire—God spoke to me, too, which is whyI stand at your bedside now and beseechthe Spirit to enter. He loves to appearin the lonely, dank rooms of the faithful:Noah, Mary, Abraham, all sweating outtheir dreams of God. You will learnhow hard belief can be. You will singwhile the guards whip you to the bone,touch an enemy’s shoulder with gracewhile the avenging knife burns at your hip.One day you will wish for your sickbed again,this woolen blanket of blindness.But I do as I am told. I lay my fingertipson your lids, and your eyes rumblelike stones rolling from the grave. Your lidscreak open, and the light burns through.This healing is not easy. Something silveris falling from your eyes. Brother, somethinglike the scales of a struggling fishis scattering at my feet.
All of it: children whistling ryegrass,my husband rubbing my backin his sleep. Consider rubbish the sunclimbing the eye of Delicate Arch,the scent of popped-open coffee.Leave it behind, pleads the scourge-scarred Paul. Lay it down and rise.But even loss is hard to count as loss.This morning frost has leatheredthe nasturtium, but I cannot endureripping the haloes of leaves from their pot.The astilbe, once a lavender mistin my window, burns toward winter,seed heads trembling like the handsof an old charismatic. Maybe in heavenI will remember the March I buriedthose bare roots around the base of the oakand brooded about some sin or anotherholding me fast in the mud, springthe only unseen I could bear to believe.
—railway therapy, Indonesia
The Jakartans offer themselves fully to the tracks,a row of living crucifixes stretched across the rails.They spread their arms along one side, sling their necksback over the steel, and tilt their faces to the sky.On the other track they prop their ankles, bare feetpulsating to the low voltage of faraway trains.They believe the charges emit sparks of insulin, releasethe blue current of sleep, liquefy arthritic hands.Though the signs warn of fines and arrest, they stay.They stay though their children nap and urinate on the rails.And when freight trains thunder by on parallel tracks,wheels just feet from their trembling chests, they presseven further into the steaming metal, believing in a healingno doctor has proven, no faithful like I have prayed for.
Perhaps you could say that in Rome, Paul,where the olive trees of the Seven Hillsstrung their pearls of rain against the sky.And yes, as I hike Glacier Parkwith a well-stocked pack, I can welcomeGod's ambassadors of fireweed and paintbrush,the psalmic rhythm of lake hitting shore.But as the refugee trudgesfrom Mogadishu to Dabaab, is she to catcha glimpse of antelope bone in the thicketand intuit the sufferings of the Son of Man?She wears her own nails and crown.An Eden of lizards surges at her heels,but she wonders at nothingbut the sore-studded daughter she left to dieon the road, and now, the babystrapped to her back: six poundsat one year old. He no longer criesbut flutters small breaths on her necklike the golden wings of mothsshe counts with worshipful attention.
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