· First Place, Poetry Contest ·

December 1, 2009

For K

Opinions vary as we wait to hear if her
health is billed clean as spic-n-span,
and in my bumbling fearful heartbreak I
find myself as useless in consolation as
I imagine; no more, no less … I loathe this
mortal question.

Standing bald and ashen, still she teaches
not just Sunday School, but tenfold—
the lines of faith and searing hope
cross her smile like grieving roads on an
oft-read palm, and we want to breathe her in
and shy away.

She asks us how we feel about Job,
that man, misunderstood and sanctified,
a man of biblical proportions if there ever
was one, and we hesitate to answer:
you are his echo, but instead we nod and
doubt our compassion.

We spend a lot of time on the old man’s
lackluster friends, emphatic in their
concerted desertion, easy in their big-house,
holy-held disdain and discuss the
wreckage of our own kind courtesy;
oh—how we lack.

Today my tongue trips awkwardly as I
search for that thing which will shred the
fence between the afflicted
and the fit-though-clumsy,
would-be mourner, wishing you could see
the love beyond the casserole I offer.

Trying not to die is pretty personal, and yet
we’ve been invited to your battleground
so I am trying not to flinch because I do
believe in a God of miracles, do believe no
suffering is useless, do believe that you should
live through this.

There is no peace in hiding behind fury, but
anguish sometimes clouds that straightforward
trust between Creator and beloved child, and we
are witness to your graceful growth, and wish that
we could take our sacred paths to cleverness
with half your solace.

And I try to lose my fear of losing your gentle
Wisdom—a matter-of-fact reality that,
like a candle, you refuse to hide beneath a
bushel or a malady; for in your eyes is shining
fire and your words—soft-spoken and wildly alive,
are fighting words.

December 1, 2009