I am torn by this baby’s birth just as I am
by the spring when it arrives suddenly
out of long days and hushed grays.
Greens push out of damp earth with such
promise and my soul opens to the light,
cautious of what could be exposed.
Springs have come before only to leave
me in the midst of barren winters with
cold hands and a faltering heart.
Something about this baby seems different
because, as he grows, light surrounds him
and life quickens even in the winter months.
My dirty, doubting soul reaches out to him as he
walks dusty roads. I am compelled to follow
as he calls, touches, and feeds.
I watch the ones who have refused my pleas
spit and slash him, breaking his body apart
before all of us who saw him with our own eyes.
His last gasp stabs me in unknown depths
and no amount of strength can hold me fast
through the death of this once-baby boy.
The heavy darkness covers us all. We must
have imagined the grace in his eyes and
power in his hands, desperate as we were.
And then behind me a single word is spoken,
“Mary.” My lungs fill again with air and light.
A spring without end has begun.
I chased after saving grace panting
like I do for the salty ocean air.
Once I knew it was there waiting
to be swallowed, my lungs could hardly hold,
so starved they were.
You know what it’s like –
all the things of the world offered to you
when your body is weak
and mind overtaken.
And then you’re gasping
and something near your heartbeat breaks apart.
You can’t touch it down deep,
but there it is shattered.
You hold these pieces
not remembering who or what broke you
because it happened while
you smiled and closed your eyes.
But then one day a light shines in
and your splintered soul rises, met by a
a wave that heals.
Oh! There’s more grace after saving grace comes
and it’s sent to us until we’re made whole.
Our land is free and just, we yell
with raised flags and white faces as
blood leaks over our complicit hands
and we make monsters of boys shot through,
reveling in our blind eyes and dark hearts.
You reminded me, standing there
cupping your wine glass amidst the
hushed conversations about breast cancer,
growing children, and refugees in the world,
to walk outside in slippers with
arms outstretched to the sparkly, dusty snow.
How do you pray in the darkness of a blue
morning when the tree limbs whip and reel,
rain batters the yellowed leaves, and
the world has no room for your
thoughts and whispers and cries?
I thought throwing rocks would make me love you again. But there is too much between, and you could not stand if you knew all the ways I have betrayed you and all the ways I have loved you.
Your heart broke open inside of mine
the night on the Biltmore veranda
when cigar smoke hovered above us,
your hand slipped on the wet scotch glass, and
you told me about becoming a man the morning your dad died.
(for Mercy June)
She tickled this red, fallen leaf
in her still-sticky, small fingers
and smiled, so surprised to find
it in her path.
This grace, my love, always pick it up
no matter the state of things
or from where you’ve come
when it finds you.
This gift that surprises and delights
will heal and comfort, my sweet girl.
Just always pick it up.
You are my protector, the guard of my soul.
You are ever-present, never-changing,
Extend your mercy,
Pour out your grace.
Hear my cry.
Hear my call.
I am yours.
What I really wanted was for us to break open the crusty bread and fill our mouths with wine
so we would remember who was holding us together when you lashed out and I ran away.