Eve asks the serpent for a story

He began by telling her about rain,
how some is soft, barely mist
against her arm, how some days
her hot skin will welcome its moisture
but how other times it is fierce, frightening,
loud as peacocks or elephants, how it rushes
like owls, muddying rivers until you can’t see
trout or wide-mouth bass or painted turtles.
He told her about a time
when rain never stopped, when water swirled
above the whole land.
She could have seen, if she’d been there,
ripples ring her knees, she could have felt

Running across the pews

Just once during a potluck I went upstairs with some
of my friends, our parents still nibbling and chatting

in the basement, and it must have been winter because
we ran around the square plain sanctuary as though

it was a playground. We discovered that we could run
across the tops of the pews, they were spaced a longish

but not impossible distance apart, it was fun and not
even really scary to stride from the front to the back,

Sonnet to knee scabs

Dark scab, ruby gem, dragon egg, scarab
body, round and bulging—a current runs
under the blood cage, pink flesh of cherubs.
We are baby-skinned wielders with shotguns.

Porcelain warriors that kill for fun
makes good TV, yet one rusty nail will slice
a toe in real life, skin spread butterfly, sun
will cook people to lobsters—skin is thin ice.

But the body craves old paradise.
She speaks a maternal, native tongue
that heals and binds, that crystalizes vice 
into a throbbing pact of blood, air, and lung.

Praise, by Martin Wenham

For decades, British artist Martin Wenham has been honing and reinventing the art form of lettering in wood. Here he sets a line from the Benedicite, a canticle based on the song of the three young men in the fiery furnace in Daniel 3. Echoing Psalm 148, the text invites all creation to praise God. In the artist’s hands, this mute wood responds.

Ain’t no meta. Ain’t no nevamind.

Such hard going to step outside
immediate matter, to nudge
the act of interlocution
sufficiently past the sturdy
pale as to accommodate now
anything close to being éxo.
Hard as it is, one is unlikely
ever to meet with actual
success. Still, even failure proves
informative, as so many
loads of matter, matter in spades,
whole shovelsful glibbly pitched
into the yawning enormity
that spans the heart’s adamant hole.
Holy, holy, holy—wholly
implicative of something gone

Natural theology in the late pandemic

At the National Quarry, aka Cob Lake, a mother and daughter
and their dog stop ahead of me—they want him to chase a squirrel,

but not that squirrel. T. passes, once my student, talking into her phone,
maybe to her grown-up daughter, who will soon marry.

And the endless gossip of water and wind. The old Puritans believed,
despite the evidence of squirrels and maples, that only continual anxiety

could ensure salvation. Wherever they are by now, I hope
they’ve found some ease. Some authorities argue that God