A Different Kind of Light
When I’ve eaten all the chips, I write it on the list, and soon there will be more. This more has followed me from birth. The earth has tilted just so, has shaken the not-so-much, the less, the never, onto other lives, other lists. I have visited their houses and bare shelves, their cardboard on the street grates, and handed some to them, knowing there was always more. O, the secret price of more— blankets laced with smallpox, produce picked for pennies, blue jeans sewn in chains. Torches lead the way to keep the world on tilt to more… we need a different kind of light to say Enough.
High Stakes This is how he grows: by being defeated… — Rilke The angel’s office is in a mall, a storefront featuring God is Love t-shirts and bumper stickers— she’s a low-level seraph, stuck with marginal cases. We agree to a game of cards— less sweaty than wrestling. The angel sits across from me and plays her first card— the rippled arms of a tupelo. I trump with burnt koalas, She comes back strong with a child’s laughter, I tender an infant caged at the border. Angel: The arm-around-you smell of a dog, Me: The alcohol swab before the vet’s needle. She slaps down dawn, I counter with cancer. On we grapple, the stars disappear. Undone, bone-tired, I play my last card—grief. The angel touches the hollow of my hip. I forget my name. The margins of her head are backlit by willows.
The Real Prayer
When I need to die to my smaller self, I close my eyes and tell my mind to say Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace, without lapsing into memories of the piano my mother played until she got nervous, or the piece of cheesecake left in the fridge—and after maybe twenty minutes, the silence between the words starts to thicken, and the one who needs and prays recedes and the one who sees and hears is there and the real prayer, which never stops, begins.
Only Long If there is a real desire, if the thing desired is really light, the desire for light produces it. — Simone Weil
We long for help and the angels awaken. But before the fragrance of our longing can reach their nostrils, we close the bottle. They were just brushing their teeth. Before the music of our need can reach their ears, we pawn our violins. Before the fruits of our desire can ripen, we sell the orchard. To the Friend, this longing smells like baking bread. Angels gather in unruly crowds to hear the music that reminds them of why they have wings. What we call help feeds on what we want to end. Have compassion. They haven’t had their breakfast yet. Wells will dig themselves if only we thirst, deep and long.
One Good Turn
I was driving with my grandson. He was hitting me with his juice box. I told him about the golden rule and he stopped.
Later, as I said goodbye, I kissed the back of his head. He was already eating an apple and didn’t look up. As I walked to the car, he came to the door, called me back and said, Pa, remember the golden rule? and kissed the back of my head.
The Blindfold’s Eyes for Dianna Ortiz, an American nun, kidnapped and tortured by the Guatemalan military in 1989, under the auspices of the CIA.
Scarred back: sacred tobacco burnt on a nun for the wrong gods. How to make a machete kill: Take a nun 31 years old and hold her hands on the handle... The blindfold sees what can’t be told. The stones are just beginning to speak the last sounds of the first ones to die in the hole in the cellar. White House counsel Alberto Gonzales swallows the cool artesian water, dries his hands with a folded napkin, takes a drag on his cigarette and calls the meeting to order.