Poetry


Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His Flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that — pierced — died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.

–John Updike

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How long must I wait here
for cosmic dust to accumulate
on me like snow upon the gate?
If I shiver…will I need to stand
longer or if I yawn…will it be
as if I’d never stood still at all.
Can you even see
cosmic dust as it falls from space,
pulled to the earth at a rate
I am powerless to hurry?
And if I remember correctly…
it was in deep, dim midwinter
when my grandmother would paint
her garden. Squeezing out titanium
white to tickle the dark bellies
of eggplants nesting under lolling
green vines full of blushing tomatoes,
flanked by bushy rows of carrot tops.
I never saw what she saw (her still life)
in our barren back lot, streaked with snow
and tanned grasses bent southward,
even on the calmest of days.
Still standing, my hands cupped up —
craters for catching what no
one can see…and yet this dust,
this weight is lightness, it is
buoyance of sight. And when,
when shall I go in?
When the warbler whispers,
“Good night,”
I will lay down
under all that blankets me,
and rest.
Have I wasted my day?
Why,
what did you do?

-Steve Baliko, published in Communique

Wilt thou forgive that sin where I begun,
Which was my sin, though it were done before?
Wilt thou forgive that sin, through which I run,
And do run still, though still I do deplore?
When thou hast done, thou hast not done,
For I have more.

Wilt thou forgive that sin which I have won
Others to sin, and made my sin their door?
Wilt thou forgive that sin which I did shun
A year or two, but wallow’d in, a score?
When thou hast done, thou hast not done,
For I have more.

I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun
My last thread, I shall perish on the shore;
But swear by thyself, that at my death thy Son
Shall shine as he shines now, and heretofore;
And, having done that, thou hast done;
I fear no more.

-John Donne

Found this poem at The Guardian lately and was completely blown away by its biblical imagery/references and the symbolism of it.

An ill wind, misprint or flaw,
a fault in the workings, trouble on a face,

like the boy’s autistic stare as he stood,
that hurt wonder breaking his logic –

back, he begged. Put it back, and showed
how easily the break might join –

a snapped toy, the greenery foiled,
an apple fallen in the way of things.

And I, turning, saw a garden of windfalls –
root and branch, graft and stock,

from too far back to know the cause –
smashed on the grass, sweetening the soil.

So that, at a loss for all the world,
for damage done at the heart of it,

the knot, the quirk, reverse and fall,
I reached for what I could not mend:

that small hand, not mine, in my own,
and sang, for the rhyme’s sake, ‘We all fall down.’

-Angela Leighton

Yes! We do fall down – all of us, the entire human race and each individual, ever since Adam, our forefather and representative, fell. He fell like an apple from a tree when Eve plucked the apple(note the double layers of imagery in this poem), and we’ve been broken ever since then, unfixable except by God’s grace. Even non-Christian poets like Angela Leighton sense and know that there’s something wrong with the world; she captures the blind, unspoken hurt that is hovering all around and in us, the fact that we’re imperfect, made for something we can’t quite fathom but sense nonetheless – the belittlement of the human race. Why do these things happen? Why is our history a history of apples(i.e. human beings) fallen, “smashed on the grass”? Why are children born autistic? Leighton provides no answer, but she does ask the question, the all-important question – why is the world broken?