These Hands

I think it’s worth it to mention –
Before all your prejudgments settle in
And you cast me in plaster as a loose woman,
A slut, and shame me, a girl
Who just won’t get her morals together,
And then you bronze me, or
Tar me and then feather me,
And drag me through your streets,
Your sanctuary, your conversations with bae,
A pin-up girl, a poster-child for poor life decisions,
And deride me,

That I was in love, once, too.
Once twice, one hundred times, can we say? – people change,
And our love changes with them, doesn’t it?
I was in love, and he played with my fingers,
Whispered his love to me, kissed me
On the forehead, before and after,
And we stayed up laughing
Till dawn together, we held hands
And walked home from the pub in the rain together,
We danced in the kitchen to Beyoncé together,

And he was my first, but he was not
My last, because when he left, he didn’t look back,
And when he started over new,
Weeks later, before the feel of him
Had left my hands, I had to, too.
And my hands, my heart, went numb, and
All I’m doing is shaking them,
Trying to get feeling back into them.

But I don’t really know how, by myself.

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Prophet

1.

Comfort my people,
Says the Lord.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem.
Tell her that I have seen her tears,
And that I still know my plans for her.
Tell her that though she has been
Beaten down, that she has
Run away from me and
Cried my name in fear and longing,
That her dry bones shall yet be raised up.

2.

There is no comfort.
My feet wrap themselves fearfully,
Step by step, around the perimeter of possibility
And all the thousand blades of grass
That stand in between.
The evening sun beats down beyond my hiding places:
A forest of broken alders to protect me,
A grove of brambles to shield me.
For today, sweet blackberries and loneliness are enough
To keep my bones, my muscles moving.

3.

Comfort, comfort my people,
Says the Lord.
There is still healing for this broken
And worn-out body
While I yet remain in the land of the living.
There is still hope
While the possibility of love
Intermingles with the scent of fresh-cut hay
And the desperate sweetness of July corn.

4.

Comfort, comfort my people,
Says the Lord,
And do not let them be afraid.
See: this valley, too, is already being lifted
This rough place is being made into a plane.
It is being made plain,
And all your sorrows are scattering.
See, a new day is dawning,
And the hope of new life
Is raising its head again, is moving again
Over the tall, free-flowing grass.

First Fruits

Mid-July:
The first fruits of the sky
Drip down towards the earth,
A filmy gloss greening the surface
Of what we know.

All around,
The dust falls quiet.
Leaves curl together in prayer,
Waiting.
Above, the gray ceiling
Fills its lungs.

Mid-afternoon:
Between field and gravel path,
The soft mist of sky whispers
To the wilting and skeptical soil
Of resurrection.

Hope sneaks in like a fog
And new life,
A possibility the dogwood
Threw away months ago,
Moves, again,
Over the face of the land.

Psalm 27 (in the Spirit of Langley, BC)

I return into the spirit of Langley, BC
My parents’ backyard, that former small town
Whose side streets and goat fields now balloon,
Reel under the weight of thirty thousand more people in seven years
Eighteen more Starbucks and
A Porsche dealership under construction on the Bypass:
The Bible Belt of BC that has come to care more
About its own personal salvation into health and wealth
Than about the 99%,

And I am unsettled.

Between the summer’s U-Pick shifts and sorting strawberries in the back of the market,
I try to keep the concrete faith that the greats in the Bible seemed to possess
I make goals, write poetry, try to untangle my thoughts
And try to not be consumed by either frustration at wealth
Or the pacifying current of its apathy.
I have dreams, want to go upwards, to reach the holiness of heaven,
But God calls me out upon the waters,
Out into the monotonous confusion of my increasingly foreign hometown,
And I wonder whether his hand has been trapped in the concrete.

In all this chaos, I want to ask questions like David did.
He, human, experienced turmoil,
But he wondered that the Lord was the stronghold of his life,
So of whom should he be afraid?
And this sounds very comforting:
Questions with concrete answers.

But he is not my fortress!
He is my earthquake, avalanche, mind flood
He turns the dry ground to liquid pavement beneath my feet
He is beauty and truth, but he is also confusion, destruction
He is a temple, he is a man overturning tables in the temple
Unsettling expectations.

Do I perceive him to be unsettling because I am unsettled?

Lord God, teach us to be confident of this:
That we can see and experience your unselfish goodness
In Langley, BC, amidst the chaos of this concrete-filled suburb.
Lord God, teach us this:
To wait for your goodness, your action.
To be strong, to take heart, and to wait for you.