On Poetry

Photo by Robin Spielmann on Unsplash

As a believer in Christ, I struggle often with what feels like the split personality of faith, what Paul described aptly as “a body of death.” I do what I don’t want to do, and I don’t do what I want to do. I am flesh and I am spirit, I am old and I am new. In parallel, as the body of Christ (the church), we are so frequently broken, unloving, impatient, afraid, and reliant on outside systems to provide our security. We know our name but we don’t act like we own it. My struggle to find a place in this often unhealthy body, to love it and call it by name even in its brokenness, mirrors my struggle to accept my name as a child of God in the face of my own daily brokenness.

Writing poetry is a form of struggle as well—not to find the right words or rhythm—but to take hold of something I don’t understand. In these two poems I’m exploring how taking hold of faith, or a church community, is not unlike wrestling with God. Jacob left with both a blessing and a limp. There is pain involved in the reopening and cleansing of old wounds, as well as freedom, hope, and comfort. But none of it is easy, and none of it seems to fit what I had in mind when I first entered in. But in it all, I can’t stop loving Jesus. I can’t do anything but turn toward Him. I desire Him more than ever.

wanton
I cannot shake you. You cling like my lips to my apologies,
like my ears to my lies, like my back to my shame, you cling
and I cannot shake you. They say I am the one who held on
but wrestling doesn’t work that way. I would take hold of the bruise:
a symbol of the time you stopped me, an ode to the song you sang me,
a scar to the blood beneath. I am limping with the longing to be near you—
as the bread is broken and the blood spilt
and I sit in a distant pew dripping wine on the stone I call home,
a house for he who lives here still, for the wanting will not cease.

I eat, and I drink, and I am merry. But the wine is red and
the blood from the blow is on my lips—a rarity, precious,
carmine, rubies. A wanton need it is, this urgency to leap
to the struggle, to pin you down, to lay you out, to rest
in your arms. In the tension of pulling away there is solace.
“Peace be with you,” you whisper as you dislocate another limb—
as the bread is broken and the blood spilt,
and I sit in the distant pew dripping wine on the stone I call home,
a house for me, who lives here still, for I cannot cease to want you.


but now i see
dark and sweet
perpetually suspicious
she squalls, a tiny finger
wrapped around

mine:
a suture to the scar
a judgment on the world
an acceptance of it
curiosity
hunger

the sound of life
is protest.

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