Legacy

Once, you made a promise to a lonely man. 

You took him out into the twilight, 

And lifted his eyes to the swirling crush of galaxies. 

“Your children will outnumber the stars.”

His gaze swept the heavens-

Multitude pinpricks of light-

Until his eyes were filled with starlight and grateful tears. 

I stand beneath that same darkened sky, 

But the stars aren’t so visible anymore,

Overcome by lights of our own design. 

The promise is dim. 

One star burns above, alone, 

And I wonder if this might be 

My legacy. 

NPM: Call Me Mara

Do not call me Naomi. 

I am no longer pleasant.

I’m Mara, I’m bitter, I’m empty.

I was filled, but I’ve been hollowed out.

I’ve lost the sweetness of the rose.

I’ve lost the flavor of food.

I’ve lost my love and my legacy.

I’ve lost my faith and my trust.

Do not call me by my old name-

The name that, when on his lips, 

Meant promise and future and passion.

It is a bitter reminder of who I was, 

Who he was,

Who we were. 

Naomi died with Elimelek, Mahlon, and Kilion.

Call me bitter. Call me Mara. 

NPM: Stain to White

Evil must be stronger than good 

Why else can one drop of poison

Turn the whole well?

One cruel person

Shatter countless lives?

Why is it so easy to break,

Yet so difficult to mend?

Surely evil is stronger

Or is it that

The difficulty

The impossibility

Of turning dark to light

Deepest stain to white

Is the monumental task of a God

Who we would not know we need

If we could do it ourselves so easily

NPM: Bitter Brother

Bitter brother
Scowling at the dirt
This dirt which nourished his crops
Watered with the sweat of his brow

Back-breaking labor, wrestling with the thorns
And thistles of his father’s mistake
Fighting the land, no longer a garden,
No longer yielding abundant fruits
But like a scorned lover
Jealous and withholding
Resentfully providing growth
Only when the full payment of labor had been received

He brought in his harvest
And set aside an offering
To the God who cast them out of paradise
But like a scorned lover
Jealous and withholding
Resentfully bringing his obligatory gift
He gave his hard-earned spoils
And was rejected.

This betrayal, more personal than any prior punishment,
Stung him deeper than the thorns and brambles.
And his shame was emblazoned in stark relief
Against the favor shown to another

Bitter brother
Scowling at the dirt
This dirt which stole his joy
Now watered with his brother’s blood

 

Suffice

“God is love,”

the Scriptures say.

But “God is spirit”

and his body is not present with me,

only his intangible soul.

I cannot touch or hear or see

and he says I am blessed for believing anyway.

But I long for the animal comfort

of a heartbeat beneath my ear,

an arm around my shoulder, holding me up.

Or to hear affirmations, declarations of faithfulness,

whispered, murmured, spoken aloud.

Not just pages of red letters,

not just tears blurring an empty ceiling,

not just crying out with no reply.

The glass is dim, the mirror dark,

and all I have is a promise,

not yet attained.

I cannot touch or hear or see

but this present distance must suffice for me.

A Holy Moment

I lay in the hammock,

Limbs heavy and sluggish in the

Cloying heat,

And it is a holy moment.

The slow summer breeze

Carries pollen as incense.

Above me rises the blue dome of this cathedral.

Solid oak branches form

Criss-crossing arches,

And in their upper reaches,

Angels perch and sing like swallows.

Amid their chorus,

I hear the low whisper,

Soft and gentle and desperately dear:

The reason for the vault of sky,

The angels’ piping strains,

The incense of the flowers and trees.

His whisper, his voice,

So quiet you could miss it.

So small you could mistake it,

And think instead that

He was in the wind, the earthquake, the fire.