Chisme, oh that succulent dish sold and served with a side of snide words wrapped in caring concern for your health. People urge you to unpackage your heart. They slop it, boiled or roasted, on a plate of I-told-you-so’s, sumptuous and steaming. They plunge their teeth into chile picante comments, those juicy and spicy words. They wound and scrape, sticking to forks, pitching tongues. People munch their meal, this food. You, too, relish it. Each morsel you savor. Until the flavor floats and reaches your stomach. You chew and wonder why the special of the day tastes so familiar.
Not that you couldn’t reach Him if you tried (maybe you couldn’t) but that you no longer try. Your last real prayer? In a plane, beseeching Him, don’t let me die. How actual He seems at 30 thousand feet, how passionately you love Him in your hope for solid ground. Not unlike that day you first felt Him ripping through your heart, you driving fast, believing you’d foiled gravity, dendrites of rain flowing up your windshield, the sting of joy like spearmint in your mouth, and now how improbable He seems. That Whoever made the stars would even notice. You! A word in His mouth? And yet you miss Him. If it could be true! You think of trying to reach Him, tell Him you’ve reconsidered.
Outside the window, seeds laid on the ledge, A sick dove staggered, pecked, staggered again, And while I watched, it toppled off the edge And lay struggling, then feebly pecked again. I took some water in a small can lid and set it by its unprotesting bill, I built a barrier so it was hid From predators seeking an easy kill. Night came and dawn, and with the morning light I saw the vanity of what I’d done; The dove was there, eyes rigor mortis tight, Flecked feathers golden in the morning sun. I took some comfort in an ancient word, “God knows when sparrows fall,” or any bird.
But let me tell you about its landscape. Small, hot, wooden, and from above no one will hear you murmur let me out. Out of the darkness nothing’s delivered. Still,
you beg it to the brass of the coffin’s creak hinge while satin grows stench and your death dress rots away. You are livid and left alone. The red jasper chaplet in your hand inclines to the pretense
of prayer. You are appalled, shrouded, sutured shut. They did not put the pillow in between your knees. And your lipstick’s smeared. Once upon, you wished for a thousand infinities.
Finally arrived, nothing can be more broken, nothing can be more than dead. A devilwood tree hones toward the uncarved side of your stone. But this, of course, is not the end.
Study war no more
Mar 18, 2011
Michael Izbicki grew up in a nondenominational church in California. A National Merit Scholarship finalist, he chose to go to the U.S. Naval Academy out of a sense of duty to his country during a time of war. At the naval academy he began to doubt whether the career to which he had committed himself could be squared with the tenets of just war doctrine. He got in trouble when he responded no to this exam question: "If given the order, would you launch a missile carrying a nuclear warhead?" After a four-year legal battle, the navy discharged him as a conscientious objector. Izbicki may have to reimburse the service for part or all of his education (New York Times, February 22).