You do not need me to bless you for the shorn field easily gives up its treasure into your baskets. Your quick fingers conjure food out of early morning mist, and in this light even the dumpster gives up its chipped vase, its clawfoot end table. The sidewalk gives up its clear brown bottle. You do not need me to bless you but I will anyway wish you clear sight into the world’s crevices and corners. Harvest the chives flowering under the workbench. Harvest the copper tubing looped in the scrap pile, the chrome fendered bicycle at the sidewalk sale. Clamp the broken slats of the chair together. Restring the guitar. And let your metal detectors whine always with joy. May you find all you seek, because at the end of the story the woman knots up her apron heavy with grain, then steals up to the sleeping body of the man who does not yet love her. And when she lies down next to him she will gather even the scent of his sleep— the smell of all future harvests, ripening.
On the barren road you speak my name, offer me a drink. That morning at the well Jacob rolled the stone away as if it were straw. What a man
would do for me then. He told me “I saw God face to face, yet my life was spared.” And now you say “Your son comes,” but your hands
struggle inside me as the owl cries, and I know this earth will take everything from me, even the name I give him. Sister, there is not enough salt in the Dead
Sea for all out tears. Our bodies, destroyed temples. We are exiles, all of us. I give you my name for your daughters and their girls to come, but remember this: a man’s favor
is a heavy offering, it crafts one day into seven, then multiplies the years. Slams a veil between sisters. In the end, when you hear your name called, all you long for is home.
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).