Sunday, March 23, 2008

A poem for Easter, sort of


We have our crosses to bear and we have our means of taking a load off our feet and our minds; of mine is writing furious notes to the margins about matters that matter little in
any time line you can conjure. Tending to irrelevance seems my fate, and so be it. The other method is playing lots of blues harmonica, relishing the sound of those bent notes and staccato riffs as they seem to hammer out the worrisome kinks and dents in the armor surrounding an other wise fragile ego. But today is Easter, and we are to rise to the task, rise above our petty concerns, and find a greater purpose than our relentless self seeking. Some of us seem natural to the calling, while others of us wait years for something to happen as a result a dedication to the rituals of faith.

Therein lies the problem, an inversion, a misreading profound and simple; the faith is in the rituals one was instructed in, not the act of faith one performs with no guarantee that any good will come of one’s winging it, sans script. Hence this poem, written this morning, a sketch, a monologue short changes the power of observance by interrogating ritual while one is ostensibly observing sacred rites.

Arisen (revised)
Today we roll away the stone
and find there's not a bone
we can pick with the stems and
blooms of seeds that have
breached the soil
after the long nights
of cold, dreamless slumber.

Tonight we bless ourselves
and dust our shelves
and curse under our breath
that wasn't more on the table
nor more praise
for the calluses our hands took on
hammering each nail
into the joists
for the roof over our heads
that keeps the food dry
on the table
that's set bread and wine,
our own flesh and blood.

Tomorrow we rise and
make noise
that’ll upset our poise
as we stare out the window
and curse the sun the rising again,
cursing the moon
for sleeping until dark,
scratching behind our ears
as we struggle to remember
over toothpaste smears
each and every step we took
to get where are,
arisen and angry,
a rough patch of unshaved chin.


I think the narrator is joking, as in being bitterly disappointed in his inability to make his actual life and the good fortune he believed devout faith would befall him. The over riding idea of grace, revivification, and joy in being alive in service to God doesn't match his feelings about his concrete experience. Nothing he has tried, I'd imagine further, has lessened what he considers the excessive load he bears. He is arguing the opposite of what he paraphrases the promises of faith to be, and this, I think ,is his problem; he hasn't the patience to allow his culminated experience become into wisdom.

He is someone who will remain, most likely, a grumbler, a complainer, a bitter smart ass. I share some of these qualities; he would rather be right than wise, a habit of mind that certainly winds up more dejected that raptured. Galway Kinnell is definitely an influence I called on when writing this morning.