No need to touch the scars;
Caravaggio got that detail wrong.
The sheer force of His presence made Thomas crumple,
doubt ceasing where belief gained life,
the parched taste, hesitant like salt, exultant like wine,
as loosened lips croaked, My Lord and my God.
Yet I am comforted to see
both the outstretched hand and
the companions’ fingers lifting his.
I cannot tell if, like Thomas,
I could simply stop doubting and believe at such a sight,
but, held up by the weathered,
briny hands of those who’ve seen with me,
I, like him, can lift a wrinkled brow in faith.
Your mind’s a rhizome and your head’s at sea.
Stray flotsam, jetsam drift in it; its roots
Run deeper than the ocean bed and shoots
Burst out of it, this way and that. The key
To tracing thoughts back to their unity
Lies not in system or in sticking boots
Into the wildness of your thought. The fruit
Will show the truth for judgment of the tree;
Meanwhile, your wild plurality of thought
Unsettles – let it. In your fragments, turn
To where one Word encompasses it all.
Within these blowing winds, the truth’s a squall,
But in my calm, confusion will be caught.
Disintegrate in me; to me, return.
When I first read Denise Levertov’s “Suspended”, it amazed me with the perfect way it blended the starkness of life with the delicate beauty of grace. You can read her poem here, in a wonderful post from CPX of their favourite religious poems, and here is my own response to Levertov.
Even So, Even So (After “Suspended”)
No sense can receive the sense
Of what it is that catches me;
You sing of joy, joy, in your heart
And I, sometimes, can know that joy, and yet
It is not clapping which sustains.
Hands that have no atoms hold me;
Even so, even so, in their infinite, silent substance they
Keep my frail floating self from
All these chasms that it seeks.
Well, November is running away from us and so far I’ve only managed one poem for my 12 Poets Project this month. So it’s time for another one, this one inspired by Denise Levertov’s wondering “Flickering Mind”, one of the best poetic expressions I have read of the human mind’s struggle with religious devotion. You can read Levertov’s poem here. Levertov’s poetic form is quite fluid, so I have gone with a looser interpretation of it here than I usually do. Happy reading!
Being (After “Flickering Mind”)
In this multiplicity,
this many-stranded, fragmentary
fold of life, I run
and flee from You, my God,
the constant in the changing whole.
I am absent, You are
the still point in this constant blur,
the first thought and the final Word.
and yet I seldom sit. Martha-movement
takes my sight
and I evade Your searching eyes.
to rest, to be before You,
this is costly; nonetheless
I live not if not