In my first family, the children were referred to not only By their given names and often their religious names also, But often by an identifying characterization as well: John Kevin the Math Genius, for example. Our sister, a nun, is Betsy God Bless Her, and our youngest brother is Thomas More Patrick the School Principal; Peter Joseph in Denver Is in the middle with your humble scribe Brian the Writer. It doesn’t matter if the child is current or past tense, either; Our oldest brother is Seamus Who Went On Ahead, whom None of his brothers or sister has yet met, and there is tiny Christopher Who Died in His First Hour, whom we expect To meet also at some undetermined hour. And there is our Brother Patrick Born Too Early, born just halfway through His wet voyage, and so he could not breathe, but that child Would have been a giant, says our mother quietly—he was Tremendous in size even half born, my blessed boy Patrick. So it is that sometimes there are five children at dinner and Sometimes more. I suppose this happens to lots of families. We don’t talk about it. Time seethes like the sea. But there, This morning, at the end of the table, is my brother Seamus, His mouth filled with stars. If I close my eyes I can see him
Perhaps you could say that in Rome, Paul, where the olive trees of the Seven Hills
strung their pearls of rain against the sky. And yes, as I hike Glacier Park
with a well-stocked pack, I can welcome God's ambassadors of fireweed and paintbrush,
the psalmic rhythm of lake hitting shore. But as the refugee trudges
from Mogadishu to Dabaab, is she to catch a glimpse of antelope bone in the thicket
and 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 nothing
but the sore-studded daughter she left to die on the road, and now, the baby
strapped to her back: six pounds at one year old. He no longer cries
but flutters small breaths on her neck like the golden wings of moths
she counts with worshipful attention.
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).