Black Willow

Peterson says: a
shrub or
tree with
narrow, or long-
pointed leaves
that are green
on both sides…
the foliage is
fine-toothed and
hairless and Williams
adds: it usually
grows near water,
holding creek banks
in place. bark on
old trees looks
shaggy and it produces
salicin, the active
ingredient in aspirin.
I only know
I have a branch
of it pressed on
page 390 from
two years ago when
the boys and I tried
to learn our trees. now
I lay beneath its
canopy, on the bank it
holds in place and
imagine Native Americans
chewing these twigs to
soothe a headache.
In response to The High Calling’s Photoplay this month Random Acts of Poetry by Tweetspeak Poetry.

Broken Thoughts

I’ve been thinking about being broken these past few days—wanting to write about it but too busy living it to bend to the words.
And then this morning I read these words:  
If, however Adam and Eve had never been expelled from Eden, then the effort that is the basis for most human achievement, as well as both good and bad actions, would not exist. Without expulsion there would be no drive to restore the severed relationship with the Divine, no attempt to join ourselves once again with the God who created us…(Victor H. Matthews, Old Testament Turning Points: The Narratives that Shaped a Nation).
I felt a little twist inside my heart when I read these words, for isn’t the reverse just as true? There would be no need for this striving to restore relationship if it had not been severed in the first place.
But we have this thing called free will and Victor H. Matthews suggests that it is this very quality that prevents the Garden of Eden from being a habitable habitat for mankind.
If humanity is truly created in the image of God, then there is an inherent element of free thinking that is an integral part of our mental makeup. Adam and Eve could not have remained as they were forever. If they were truly human, then the curiosity that stirred the ancients to discover uses for fire, stone, and animals demanded that they be awakened to their destiny, which was not in Eden. (pp. 32)
This shook me.
Adam and Eve could not have remained as they were forever…
Is it possible that, without the first sin, we wouldn’t know the value of the relationship that was squandered? Is mankind capable of making good choices without the intimate understanding—without having knowledge of—the negative consequences of disobedience?
I want to believe that the story could have had a different ending—that it wasn’t just some kind of holy setup. But I don’t know. I’ve never lived in a world where bad things have never happened. Even now, in this fallen world, where the negative consequences of many choices are well documented all over the earth’s surface…where the bad is well-known, people make poor choices—I make bad choices—everyday.  
Nothing bad had ever happened in paradise. They had no frame of reference. And I am fooling myself if I think I would have chosen differently.
In the end, the question is this: Do I trust my Maker?
Do I trust what the Bible says–that He is good, that He has good plans for me, that His ways are higher than my ways, that I can never understand the mystery that is Him?
Because I don’t. I don’t understand why this roundabout way of watching us sin so He can send his Son to save us. Of sending God with Us in the form of a helpless babe. Of the suffering we must endure until He comes again.
I don’t understand.
It doesn’t make sense.
But what does make sense is the rush of joy that I feel at His presence…the way He can show me amazing beauty in pain and suffering…the way my heart burns within me when He speaks.
But still…
Sometimes I question His wisdom. He is the best thing I have but still, sometimes it is my first response to say, Are you sure, God?
Because I am broken, I ask this question. And because I am broken, I cannot trust my answer. And because He is God, He has made a way for me—even in my brokenness.
if…
the garden was just
a trophy case for
the exhibit of all Creation,
if we were never
able to live in utopia
from the beginning,
if free will keeps
us from belonging
to this paradise,
then, what is this
hole inside my heart?
isn’t it the longing
to return?
every day I am Eve. did
God really say…?
the serpent slithers in
to provide the catalyst for
change. And I—I
lay a place for him
at my table.
in a world where
evil is the belle of the
ball…where she dances
proud and brazen in the
dark of each day…a narrow
Light shines still.
and by grace this
cycle will be broken.
This was written for the one-word blog carnival over at Peter Pollock’s (though I’m late to the party) and for Marus’s Random Acts of Poetry challenge over at The High Calling.

Still…Life

hush
of undulating
grasses

sky
dilates blue

brush
lingers
over this;
thick, absorbent
medium—
life—
it wicks away
every drop.

i am thirsty.

yet, the color
of days
disappears,
pigment
softens at
the edge and is
rich in valley
low…

fragmented bits of
life, left
behind and i
miss the beauty of
wash over
wash that
creates full
picture.

time
blinks and
yet
there
is still…
life.

turn
your head
again,
my love.
meet
me in that
place we
used to be.

the
field between
us
grows
wild, unruly.

these murmuring
trees know
not
breath escaping
from
between parched
lips
thirsting,
dry—cracked.

first glance
sees only swaying
grass, mute
sky;
but underneath—still,
life.

look deeper,
my love, into
my soul. feel
my heart
beat and
miss under this
skin. am i not
flesh? am I
not holy?

let us again
paint with
opacity those
moments which shall
never be
diluted.

Watch Maria Shriver read a portion of her favorite poem here…

Monster Mash: The Creature

at night I
dream

of gill and
fin–
of fishy lips and
webbed hand
the creature walks among us.
like fragile
star of silent
screen, I
lift my arm
to face unseen;
faint daintily–so
nice and clean
the creature walks among us.
when scaly
arms
embrace me
tight and
carry me into
the night;
I scream the
scream of
damsel fright
the creature walks among us.
I awake to
memories of
reel-to-reel
with family,
savoring popcorn
and company
no creature here among us.
here I find
my lungs breathe
air
and there’s no
seaweed in
my hair
just
sorrow for
the creature—
the one who
lives
in all of
us; the
gentle forced
to make a fuss and
then is asked to
take the bus;
villainized—it’s so
unjust
this creature lives among us.
and so it is, the
soul
laid bare–
we dive in
deep to
wash our cares;
try to breathe
with gills not
there
the creature drowns inside us.

We are having a monster mash over at High Calling Blogs! Head on over there and read all about it. This poem was inspired by a shortened version of The Creature Walks Among Us that my family used to watch on our old reel-to-reel. There was no sound, so much of the story was lost on this Saturday-morning-cartoon-watching bunch; but at the end of the film I always felt so sorry for the Creature. You can check the trailer out here. We never had the privilege of sound. Enjoy!

Music Box

She kept
her heart
in a cedar
box
high up
on a shelf
in
the closet–
where
little hands
could not
touch it.
sometimes
she would take
it down
and let us
peek
at paper clippings
silver JFK half-
dollars
canadian
pennies
dried flowers
and a necklace of
faux stones
her mother
used
to wear.
and if we
turned the metal peg
the saddest
tinkling
music played–
like breaking glass.
our hearts
did.
break.
when she put
the box
away.

we broke our Lenten fasts today. jeffrey was so excited to enjoy dessert after a week without. we made a fancy trifle…and it was so yummy. he enjoyed it so much, and i cherished him even more. and then i was a little girl again–feeling sorry for myself. so i determined to find a happy memory. and this was it: my mother’s music box. the song was Lara’s theme. the hinges broken. i don’t know the story of where the box came from. but she treasured it so. and i treasure the memory.