My readings went really well last night. I was super nervous, almost to the point of dreading it. I just kept telling myself “I refuse to be nervous, I refuse to be nervous, I refuse…” And that helped a little.
There were so many people in the room! The event was held in the West Wing of the library, where there are gorgeous vaulted, wordworked ceilings and stained glass windows. There’s a tiny stage at one end and chair were set up in rows between the bookshelves. It was a great little setup, but so many people came!
My name was called (I was well-introduced), and I walked up in a daze. You know how, when you’re really nervous, you just do something without really thinking of it? I felt like my self got hollowed out and was left with only the mechanical parts, a mechanical girl reading a poem. But then as it went on I got really into it. It was really wonderful.
I shared three poems tonight. One was “Irony”, which I’ve shared on here before. This one for today was my second offering. It’s called “The Speech”. In a nutshell, it sort of fictionally explores how we as Christians have the responsibility to speak what we believe no matter how violently the rest of the world protests. Some people I talked to thought the main character was an actual person, and there were a few Biblical figures they came up with. That’s not what I initially had in mind, but you know, that’s poetry! People taking different things away from what they read (or hear). And that’s what I’ve learned to love about it.
He addressed the crowd small and wizened.
He knew them well;
He had stood where they now did,
and had offered his services as one of their mob.
They remembered. And they were angry
because he was a new creation now,
a freak of nature, an anomaly,
because his eyes were clear
and there was light in them,
because of his audacity to be so weak
in defiance of their great strength,
because he stood before them like a bird before the ax,
because he had thrown away their coins and badges.
He spoke to them with patience,
his smooth, gentle words rolling off his tongue.
His whispers were drowned in their roars,
and yet they heard him, and they were threatened.
His frailty carried might.
He was like the pulling undertow
while their strength was in the mighty wave.
He spoke, and they erupted,
like molten rock spewing from Vesuvius,
like the jarred plates of the earth dissolving continents,
like Pontchartrain running free from its banks one August.
He spoke, and they exploded,
like the mushroom above Hiroshima,
like a crushing tornado on the plains in summer,
like thunder and lighting lacerating the sky.
He spoke, and they screeched,
hurling curses like rotten tomatoes and broken glass,
spitting through bared teeth,
scratching with their sharpened claws.
He spoke, and they profaned,
they swam in blood and drank of it, washed themselves in it,
howling like beasts in the dark of night,
reveling as beasts in the light of day.
His words wounded them,
like a thorn scratch,
a toe stub,
a nose slap.
His words wounded
with shame more than pain,
which was unacceptable.
They could not stand for shame,
but pain was the language they spoke.
So they lashed, but he smiled,
so warm and bright that the sun was jealous.
He raised his face to heaven and sighed.
He was at peace.
They lashed, but he was not surprised.
Like the tide drowning castles they swarmed him,
trampled him like soot, snow, and cigarettes.
He was not bothered.
They bruised him and slandered him,
and pushed him through town,
kicking and screaming, incensed.
But he sang like a chickadee bathing itself in the snow.
They bound him and beat him,
and dragged him through streets
greasy and dirty and dank.
but he laughed like the merry Saint on Christmas.
“They may rage all they like;
“I have said my piece.”