How many years I’ve carried this body,
And how long its carried me-
An intrinsic facet of my existence
And my identity.
How its struggled from the womb
Targeted while tender,
A bullseye-birthmark stained through systems-
And genes- and gender.
How long pain has walked in stride,
Fingers clasped in mine,
Wracked from earliest childhood,
Constant yet, through time,
Wrecked still, the crawling pain
Shudders my skin awake,
While the cold chill grasping
Does not alleviate my ache.
Bedfellows we’ve been
Thirty-eight years to strive-
One day we both shall die,
But after, only I will come alive!
Here is what I know:
There was a judge, an infraction,
And a widow who would not let go
Or succumb to distraction.
Here is what I know:
Jacob took hold, wrestling,
And would not let go
”Until” he said, “You bless me.”
Here is what I know:
You’ve told us to pray,
And I refuse to let go
Until You have Your way
In this heart,
In this family,
In Your house,
In this city,
A morning lingering into day,
In waking, walking paralysis
Our finer natures overlaid
By an interlocking antithesis.
Waiting with breath abated
For any signal to divine
If affection is reinstated,
If value is reassigned.
Late afternoon I went to work
For You, to finish what I started
Not for favor, or fear of shirking,
But because the work is imparted
And I had the time to do it.
When I left, You began to speak
My fears are falsity-conduits:
I’m only in trouble if You are weak.
Then You reminded me
I’ve been gifted unspeakable devotion
A God who desires, who seeks,
Who set time in motion
To rescue me, to hold me close.
Your love rained on me all afternoon,
I saw You greater than the foe,
And somehow I’ve been hewn
In Your image,
Which is anything but hollow.
You alone set me to pilgrimage,
And equipped me thus to follow.
I began the day waiting to forget,
These frailties fading into embers,
But You reminded me You’re not done yet,
And what I need most is to remember.
More than a year, it takes
on a single hand
to count these nights.
The foundations shake,
and I’ve abandoned trying to make it right;
I only try to outlast the hours.
I can, but he has deadfall traps
constructed in his soul.
The bait entices, he devours,
snapping jowls and swallowed scraps,
until the trigger takes its toll.
I forget the Viking even exists.
He’s a stranger here, hard to know,
subdued by character and discipline
but when he took my wrist
and didn’t let go,
I realized he was here again.
His Achilles isn’t in his heel,
you’ll find it in his blood-soaked genes:
An heirloom-trap passed on in grief.
Still angry, I asked him how he feels.
“Good,” he replied, like being mean
brought some long-anticipated relief.
I know his decisions are his alone,
and generally he loves me too well,
but these nights leave me unsettled and concerned-
Is resentment hiding, ingrown,
waiting for the chance to swell?
He wouldn’t be the first good man I’ve turned.
Does loving me require the odd glass?
A little something to feel right-
a drink, an escape, an evening of bitter regret?
It’ll be months before the next trespass.
Tomorrow we’ll forget tonight,
But I can’t forget it yet.
Is this design or dysfunction?
I feel tired through my core,
And do we go it alone?
It comes with no compunction,
Knock-knocking at my door:
This beast that chewed my child-sized bones.
But the memories, stale
With scratching fingers,
Cannot change who You are
I fight exhaustion, often fail,
But You ever linger
Both near and far.
I don’t trust where I began,
And I can’t know where I may end,
But You are the Ancient of Days.
No one plucks me from Your hand
When You have called me friend,
And whispered Your higher ways,
To lead me through this maze.
As the once closed curtain of time
Falls open, by accident, down the center
Like your lover’s blouse
I stare indecently
At moments unmeasured
Illuminated by the soft glow
Of the forgotten
The unbearable weight of sadness
From the depths of humanity torn,
Where a wound to any is a wound to all,
And the blood cries out from the ground
Pooling in accumulated tragedy,
An affront to all intent of design,
And the blood and loss and anguish must be heard,
And it will be heard.
And the days are kind.
But I feel them- blind
Which need saying?
You write from a different state,
And my love still smolders,
But no longer can these shoulders
Carry the heavy weight:
Admission to your spinning fête.
A carnival empire
Begging to be spared
From a survival-bent liar:
Unwitting victim and victimizer.
You stand as your own narrator
Proclaiming all you’ve accomplished
I’m a forced-accomplice
But what do you say to your Creator?
Do you say to the Lord
”Look at all I’ve done in Your name?”
We both know that refrain
Strikes the wrong chord,
And costs more than you can afford.
So why do you fill these days
Practicing it in rote?
A demanding gloat
Or an empty craze:
An entry-fee of praise.
I’m worried sick about you.
You’re old, and you’re ill,
And you’re unchanged still.
With all time put us both through,
You will not be subdued-
Thirty-eight years askew,
But I do care, and I will,
Because I love you still.