I hoped that you might show yourself for after all we'd often talked of what might happen after death but so far there is only this; the way leaves shook in sudden wind as we prayed beside your grave, acorns striking heads, hands, feet, and we looked up, expecting you —it was, it seemed, your kind of joke— but all we saw was silent sky which is to say that life goes on: trees drop their leaves and snow falls soft as children starve and glaciers crack, and so far you have not appeared although it's true I sometimes think that late one night as I lay sleeping you, in secret, slipped inside for in the dawn light when I woke, sun rising like an open heart spilling forth a sea of love, in that moment, ah, bright wings, I saw the world. through your eyes.
Zero isn't nothing. My father, a mathematician, insisted on that. When he helped me with my homework and I said it was his eyes would steady, voice grow stern. He'd correct me, try his best to make me understand. I couldn't comprehend his reason, didn't really care. What difference did it make? Twenty years later and she is gone. Now I know. I'm up to my eyes in the shadow-black heart of it.
I am thinking of a thousand hills and banana beer and the fast moving low resting dawn breaking clouds which must wake God in the country where He sleeps.
and I have seen Him there cupping black dirt in His hands smoothing out the curves of each valley and rounding off the crest of each hill a thousand times over like lumps in a pillow or my mother's rising bread.
yes, I have seen Him there cupping black dirt in His hands smoothing out the curves of each hip and shoulder rounding off the tips of each finger and toe a million times over slow and steady like love and laughter or the flicker of my father's youth.
and I don't suppose God slept a moment in the spring of '94 when the rain all smelled like salt and Kigali held its breath like a baby in a basket.
and I have seen Him there cupping black dirt in His hands smoothing out the curves of each tiny tomb for the sparrows they cut from the sky too many times over, swift and sharp like winter in the blood or the flutter of a broken wing.
and every time I see Him now He is braiding black feathers and painting justice on the grass where elephants fight on trampled ground at the foot of His bed for tootsie rolls and peanuts.
The second hand seemed to tremble on the edge of motion when I was young, like a diver poised with suppliant arms, paused in momentary stillness before secretly shifting his weight
forward, opening to the instant gravity and air. But after half a century my seconds and minutes are long forgotten casualties, and weeks months years disappear
like pressed flowers crushed by fingers no longer precise and nimble. And yet behind my back each day still stretches feline in the brightness of my memory, bee-song somnolent
without eagerness for the moment around the corner. And when night arrives, curtained and padded or hard like a crucifix, nubilous as obsidian or moonlight-silver,
I will stand trembling on its edge with suppliant arms and just enough time for one last dive.
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).