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Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Living Book

Then the Lord said to me: ‘Do not be distressed,
for I will give you a living book’.
—Santa Teresa de Ávila

Today the air gleams like a steady page of light.
Clouds burrow into their whites and grays
as birds fly their small tight bodies
across the sky, pressing into me
the words they are. And what is a word
but the undeniable presence of each thing,
like a roof glinting with all of its shape in the rain,
its red-gray pebbled tile protruding through
the air’s vague light to tell us to shed
whatever is unsure in our minds?
If God is anything, He’s a merciless
precision—never sparing us any detail,
whether it is blood or coffee spilling.
We get into trouble when we doubt
what is given to us, as in ninth grade track
when I did the long jump and flew
as long as my eyes looked up,
but the minute I looked down,
my flying stopped.
The tree does its job by climbing,
without question, its one sentence
up the sky, the shadows by settling
into cool, sleek paragraphs,
and the grass by extending its plot,
unconcerned with beginnings or ends.

We ripple within the world’s story:
our bodies wandering their peculiar script
across the world as it wanders through us.
Each day, our mind’s dark shutter creaks
opened and closed—hinged to the question,
What do I let in? Santa Teresa, robbed
by the Inquisition of her books in Spanish,
let each window and chair lean
its word into her until her room
became a raised type—its letters precise
and inevitable—fighting off
the vagueness of the devil.

Meanwhile, the world writes its text.
A country road brightens in the evening rain—
a feverish gray cutting its way
through murky hills. I lean out my window
to accept its stubborn shine, as the glow sharpens,
gives off the next luminous line.

Originally published
Tar River Poetry.

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