Thursday, December 20, 2007

Wednesday, Ash

"Poetry may require a non-believer to love a god, or a god to love a man." (Todd Swift)

This reminded me of Jill Alexander Essbaum's poem "Wednesday, Ash," from her book Heaven. It begins with a hammer: "Nothing of me will survive." It pursues the idea by referring to a series of body parts, and how each of them will disappear when one dies, then provides a first summary: "How can that be? Nothing, nothing of us survives."

That is the first line of the fourth stanza from the end (the poem is in quatrains). Then the poem begins to address the matter of how the Christian promise overcomes this problem, concluding, in an address to "my God":

Save us to a grace we cannot ever hope to understand,
such that in our dyings—behold—somehow?—we live.

I scribbled at the bottom of the page: "A poem that makes it possible for a non-believer to feel the believer's need to believe, the source of that need in fear of death, the glory of Christ's promise to overcome death for each believer."

In general, in fact, Heaven helps this non-believer feel what belief is like. It may not make me "love a god," but it does "require" me to do so, as long as I am convinced by each poem.

1 comment:

swiss said...

reading the post, as opposed to the poem put me in mind of those lines from mrs dalloway after the car backfires

when London is a grass-grown path and all those hurrying along the pavement this Wednesday morning are but bones with a few wedding rings mixed up in their dust and the gold stoppings of innumerable decayed teeth. The face in the motor car will then be known.