Friday, April 5, 2013

A Song in Parts

The Beloved
Mute, I was led like a lamb to the slaughter-
And the same was done to my daughter.
I was slain of love before there was a world,
When I slept dreaming in the bosom of the Father.
We went together over the light and living things
That would spring up from this,
our mutual delight
overflowing the cup,
poured out upon the harrowed world
We already fully knew
And loved,
Even in the pain of freedom’s full expression.
So my own, my beaten and bloodied son-
Come out, come here-
lying wounded, naked upon the road,
pushed to the side,
passed by,
unclean, unclaimed-

You are mine.
 I will wear your wounds.
I stretched forth my two bright, unbroken hands
And interwoven, the world, the words, fell out between
And time began
spun into present being.
The precious and the small that I loved, the drops of
Spray upon the back of the beasts and the crawling things
Unfurling gossamer wings and seeds each to their kind
And a boundary where the sea shall not pass.
And it was good but divided:
the dark from the light,
the waters above from the waters below,
held back for some future purpose.
Our longing brought us down to the dust
We pressed our mouth to the tender soil
and breathed our children into flame.
In the beginning, they would come to us.
The Audience
We came out from insufferable freedom,
barring the gate to that unspeakable garden.
We cannot be naked, undefended
tasting everything but
of good or evil knowing nothing.
Let us make god in our own image.
Let us circle god with the spinning mechanical angels
Whose rimmed unblinking eyes will count out
All our many offensives continually
And he will wage war for us
Upon those white and pestilent horses.
We will build a tower to divide
The lower to build, the higher to see
And god on top, where the prophets speak
In the seventh story room.
And the banner of god will be
White and gold and red as blood,
Marching as an infantry.
Let them make the bricks now,
Let the starving ones press them into mold,
One after another after another
And all for the glorious city of god.
Hand me the iron pen and the whitened skin
And I will write this script into stone.
The Girl
I woke with the taste of grapes in my mouth
I had been dreaming of something-
The iron creaking of the swing set
The slam of the screen door
I woke and it was gone.
I was called up those tower stairs,
past all those pictures of the starving saints murdered before me
past all those poor lambs called up to heaven on the treadmill
and that starred lady giving birth before the dragon,
terrible, bright and shining,
marching on before
I rose in the crowd to clap my hands for the Prophet
And all his holy gods.
Hosanna! Said the crumbling cornerstone
Where I fell and hit my head trying to see in
All the precious stones had been pried out
Years ago.
Like bullet holes in holy places, where the Prophet
paced threadbare the boards and
the bed where he lay him down to sleep tonight,
under the seven story room where the faithful
prayed all day and night-
Deliver us, O lord, from your great and terrible might!
I went up the stairs and up the stairs and up the stairs
into the holy room
And stood before the banister that looked down over
those rows of souls who’d bowed their head before
The almighty warriors of prayer,
red letter
up to the standard
Sending god himself out
To wrestle with the wily devil in his stony strongholds
Amen! They cried and again they cried amen.
And all the women wept and raised up holy hands and hide your head
For fear of those dreadful angels they can’t see through the lace
The holes there that hold in your head.
And the grit that hurts your knees as you bow down, bow down
Before that holy warfare they wrestle with, red faced and sweating
And shouting out the devil’s name
In some far off, dark powerful place that is between the plastic seats
And the white globed lights in the ceiling
Counted out in hours of boredom
Between the air you breathe and the room pressing down
And the sharp stones of the building cut into shape-
Like warriors trampling down the vineyards
The sweet, tender vineyard, the little grapes and the foxes
That peak through the leaves, the little foxes
Underneath the hooves of those terrible white horses
All cut to pieces and flayed apart and hung on the wall of those stairs
That I went up and up into the airs of that place
that breathed down through
those bullet holes like tongues of light that shine down through
those stones pressing down like one great stone
a gravestone
throw the starving under sea to lie down
and take it.
The Beloved
In the beginning, my lover was taught the law
Precept upon precept
line after line
Following her unmerciful tutor.
But as she grew older, I coaxed her closer
And leaning over, I whispered her name.
Passing over the tender grass
I rose up in the wind and kissed her wondering mouth.
She didn’t know it was me, but she turned to follow after.
My lover, she woke one morning to the black trees
Streaming past the blurred window and
Knew the emptiness in her heart
One she thought would take her straight
To hell if she didn't repent.
Though I rode beside her on the jolting seat,
She saw me through the white bound window
Of her child’s bible
Too tender to be real, too vague for everyday use.
So she climbed the tower to make amends
Seven stories she stepped up
The creaking wood, crying out
The pain of their history worn into them.
She evoked all the deepest magic she knew,
She called up all the sacred words
Over and over she flipped through the dry
Sheaves, underlining, whispering
Searching for me in the numbered verses.
But I waited.
I waited for the silence to rise up-

And the words fell away.
She stood before
The bared and wounded plain of her soul
The emptiness more terrifying to her than hell.
Crippled, she bent forward on the spindled chair
And cried out to me without official form
Without disguise, without sanction,
Or correct interpretation.
And bending over her with wings of fire,
I poured out to her
like honeyed oil that ran down
All her hair, soothing her burning eyes
And running down to fingertips and toes
Overflowing her soul,
Tipping her small scales over
into uncontainable
she went running down
Her feet only skimming
the steps
And burst out into the
newly made night,
laid with dew,
canopied in shadow
and spinning around her.
She danced with me for one hour
Then she put me away,
Respectfully releasing me
For the more pressing and important duties
She imagined must be waiting.
I let her sleep a little while longer.

Thereafter, she knew two gods.
In her youth, my lover stood before
The congregation
Their hungry eyes bright, they watched her stumble.
Drawn up, because she could not undo that tie that bound us together.

She gave herself over to a father I did not know,
Faithful to her faulty teaching
Seeing me between the lines.
She was afraid, but she called out my name
And pulled me down
Face to face with her.
Her throat moving under the light,
lifted, bared-
I poured into her and caused her
To speak the words that I was speaking to her.
We heard and spoke them together.
She loved me with all her heart and soul and strength
And she gave herself over to the monster that drove
Her with cords of anger,
Stripping flesh from spirit
Bleaching out the soul and
Leaving her bones tied
together with printed paper.
And all this, I suffered with her, until she fell so far
That false god wouldn’t claim her.
I caught her.
The Girl
I woke with the taste of wind in my mouth.
Each step my own bone,
Feeling with my hands
As I climbed higher.
Beloved bricks,
Formed with the palms of my hands,
Pressed down
The mortar beaten,
Pressed down
Laid each upon the other
Pressed down
and slit open on the alter.
So close to this cannibal god
with the blinding teeth
his bloodied, unbearable hands
passing his children through
the fire.
I stumbled and everything came falling with me,
Every alter I had set up-
Pretty little virgin vanities,
Lovely trinkets whispering around the mirror
Petty vows spoken hollowly,
Snap shot pictures, paper charts,
Simple mysteries and prayer lists
Like grocery receipts
All stuffed in satin lined boxes
Of my surface childhood.
The unbroken skin,
The ivory tower
The white neck
That god wanted
Behind glass.
It came down in a shower of bone shards
And glitter.
The pigs rooted through it, where I lay
Where I found myself when I woke up
a backslider,
such a crushing disappointment
such a waste
such a weak girl after all-
to wake up, throw up in that black painted room
With the velvet painting.
What’s your name, little girl,
What’s your name?
But I didn’t know.
He taught me some bitter words, that first husband,
Who incarcerated shame
Into my own flesh and bones
That wouldn’t take him in.
It was all my fault.
And that first god had vomited me out, my pass key wouldn’t
My vagina was shut down, closed down for
Bad business and without that
Little flap of skin
God couldn’t see me,
I’d slipped under the holy radar
Unwanted, unwrapped
It didn’t matter it was a marriage license he took me under
It was wrong, all wrong and now I was
The poked chocolate in the box someone found but
There was no cherry.
I was unripe like small potatoes,
Crying in that attic room, screaming out without my voice
To get off me stop that right now I can’t take
One more blinding awful
But I took it and I took it and I took it
Silently, as I should,
Was taught to
Yield to
The Audience
Let us lead the virgins out one by one
For sale.
Come on girls, come on out,
In pretty little shirts and skirts.
Who is the highest bidder here?
Who has won the right to claim their bride
By upright study and the prayer of clean hands
A blind white soul and pure sheets-
These girls don’t come cheap.
You have to suffer for this marriage
Of the mind, interlocked, yoked
With the correct bolts.
It’s all in the right equipment.
Have you prayed, have you
Run it by the prophet’s men?
If not, you’ll watch her hair relax out of curls just out of reach;
Not yours yet, but if you ask
Very pretty please
You might take her out just once
Before you take stock of all her value,
Off the open market, where there are no
exchanges but things do accrue.
Come girls, back to bed and locked up tight
And sleep you sweet upon these barren beds
Wait for another day,
Wait and wait and wait
And wait.
Here is one that fell out the fold, bruised,
Cut open, revealed.
We’ll sew a lovely letter upon her dress and
Let her gingerly among the rest.
But don’t listen close, her story’s not for you-
Where could you put her story?
Your hearts have no pockets.
The Girl
I woke to the wilderness.
Some sweepings here, caught up in corners,
Blown around.
I had to run after myself, trying to snatch
Something here and there
Is an opinion, newly formed and lightly held
And there
Is a memory I’ll polish clean.
I carried a grab bag and sometimes I’d sit down
To puzzle through it-
Why this?
him I put in the back seat, solicitous. I said
Do unto me what you must but you’re breaking my bones
And you don’t want me anymore, anyway,
Without my saccharine, Kool-Aid colored cherry topping
my black bound rule book.
Let’s be honest:
You’re not telling me to go left or right here,
At the stop sign, where I’m
Constantly yielding.
I don’t know which way to go and
You’re not helping.
Go tend your lambs, I’ll handle the dogs.
I’m used to it.
At the very bottom of the bag I carried with me
Memories like hope kept in the back of the box,
After everything else had been let loose.
Sometimes I turned back and saw Him there,
That One I couldn’t speak or carve out
Perplexed, I tried shooing Him away.
“Close your eyes, You shouldn’t see this,” I told Him,
More than once.
But He just kept on following after, showing up
To the terrible party, closing the doors after the guests had left
And sweeping up with me,
Sleeping at my side on the floor.
I said, I’ll never speak a word of this to anyone-
This grace is too cheap to be believed-
Where His sense of cause and effect?
Why won’t He
Hit me?
Sometimes I would peak out of the lattice of my heart
And glimpse Him, as I had known Him
And I knew I was His, through and through
But I wasn’t living it righteously enough
To prove it was true.
I would remember that I had stood before
Heaven laid open, right through the ceiling
and felt the eyes of God turn to me
Moved by me
As I had been moved by Him, drawn up to stand there
Singing something I had yet to learn.
So I made a door to keep Him safe from myself
And sometimes I would open the door and check on Him.
“I love You,” I would say. “I’m Your girl,
Your bruised and battered girl.
And You know the fire of pain that burns at the hinges of my heart.
There’s no need for us to speak.
But I can’t come to You just yet.
I can’t take it.
But You know where I am.”
And He would wait!
I would close the door on Him, and He would wait!
What manner of God is this?
Whose image is He making manifest?
This is an untaught God, older than humanity,
Living, not written.
His freedom is dizzying
and born of love and held of love and taught of love
He knows nothing and can do nothing
but what His loving Father showed Him.

What father? This Father the created universe cannot possibly contain.
Where is there room for this love that died
To be with each of us in our hells
Before they ever held us in their arms?
The Audience
When one has fallen, we will mark them off the list.
This is only fair and fair warning to those who remain
For the full wages of war.
Things don’t divide evenly and we make our bread
By the sweat of our face and we make our bed
To sleep in it.
If one falls, the rest circle the wagons and recite
One hundred and twenty two poems
And one psalm
The other books are burned in the bonfire
To keep us warm.
This is the way we have always done
And learned it and we will pass it on to the little ones
Watching, whipped and learning.
Each in their place, as god ordained it
The men to suffer honorably, empty and desperate.
The women to follow after, silent, serving, both
In bed and out but never sexuality, that wouldn’t be fit.
But pleasing yes, in every way, to only one.
To the rest, she is a snare and must keep her dress loose
Like a tent to catch the air, for the men’s imaginations
Are constantly flamed up
At her expense and so she must beware.
But also bewitching in bed, by the book:
Here’s thirty tips and some soothing metaphor.
Have fun. Not too much. Like that, but not this way.
What way? Don’t ask me. I don’t have the vocabulary.
But who could argue with missionaries? That’s all I’m saying.
Listen, here’s the crux of it:
You’re meant to be the bride of god
And he wants a gutted woman,
Scooped right out and genderless,
Also with no feeling, certainly no personality,
But white and gold streaming like scarfs
From your open, soundless mouth.
No body, no limbs, nothing but laundered robe,
Starched stiffened and possibly scented with something
Like lavender or rose water, but let’s not get carried away.
This is god’s bride we’re talking about here; perfection,
The tip top, the best of the best.
A militant bride, a tramping, sword wielding woman.
The virgin multitude melted into one faceless mob
Of righteous white that will
Fall down slowly out of the sky, all those beautiful buildings
That god will take in his arms and cherish tenderly.
The cubic feet, the angled wall,
Here a window, there a window: precious windows
That god adores! See how he loves the bricks
And rocks it close at night.
We love this city because god loves this city;
We are this city because we’ve bricked it up
By every bloody sacrifice of self, by every heart torn
Out by the roots, by every child laid across our knees
And beaten, by every desire denied, by every
Emotion bleached by a life time of holy days
Given to god and by wearing skirts.
This is how we know god loves us.
And when he walks past our empty, mortared form
When we meet with him at a distance in the gilded temple
And intone his name,
When we take our place at the table,
Up high and close enough to feel
His hot and holy breath-
It will all be worth it then-
By the banks of that golden river, over looking
The anguish of the fallen, forever heaped outside
The jacinth gate, their weeping and gnashing of
Teeth soft music to our meat.
The Girl
I woke in the garden.
I had wandered in by accident.
I thought it was a state park, or
Some quiet estuary, where the river
Flows down into something greater
And mingles in peaceful eddies
Before being drawn out to deeper
Tides beyond.
I said, I’ll sit here a while and
Build my simple life in the shade of this tree
And trail my fingers over
This painted park bench that feels
So oddly familiar.
For a long time, I sat there alone-
The woods were good company.
But they reminded me-
A glimpse of something caught long ago,
A battered postcard of a country
I thought I had no more hope of reaching.
I pulled it out and looked at it again.
I remembered Him.
If I opened the door, could I live with Him?
I still carried the tread of the stairs
in the sturdy muscles of my thighs.
Some days I still carried the bricks
Around on my back, the corners
Cutting even in memory.
So I tried to find Him in the built
Cathedrals of contemporary worship,
Sitting on the thin cushions, listening
To the ringing of the microphone
In my ear.
I found Him there, sometimes,
Standing while the world fell away
But I was always ashamed of
my trembling hands, my voice
slightly off key, lifting, yearning-
too naked for the church pew.
The park bench suited me better.
The Beloved
I looked down, I saw my lover
Sitting in full flower and wandering
In search of me.
Coming close to the door and then
Timidly back again, her eyes lifting up
Swiftly, uncertain.
My heart melted down into rivulets at the sight,
Flooding the garden with silver pools
And streams running brightly,
Gilding all the leaves, running along
The edge and dropping with a quiet
Music tapping out the depth of that
Space under the cedars,
Green and growing, all tended
By my hand and called by name
Where she lived, in the midst of that
Verdant life, unknowing, seeing me
In every turn, my handiwork made
For her to sleep in, one part of
All that life I loved.
I saw her
Pressing her ear to the panels
And pulling away again, fingertips
Lingering once
More leaning in,
Knowing my name and not finding
Voice enough to say it.
So I came down to her.
The Audience
Oh, let us have fog machines and light shows!
Strike up the band, the electric guitar
The wide white windows flickering in their
Passing images, telling everyone the words
So no one has to sing their own.
Oh, bring us skits and plays and coffee bars!
Oh, let us have missions and money plates
And lovely drapes and carpets rich and full.
Let us lift the stage up into higher view our leader
Clearly now to adore
And imitate.
Let us discuss his gestures, inflections, delightful voice
That shudders through the sound system
And the clutter of paper programs,
Hopes, diagrams to God
And five step programs
And small, small groups.
Now everyone come up here and meet with god
Here on the stairs.
Come closer, my little lambs,
My flock, come to the leader now, follow the leader
Now, he’s pointing to where god stands
Put two and two together.
You don’t find him? That’s your fault-
Search your heart, myopic, look closer
There’s some stain there, barf it up, bulimic
You skin and bone believer, scrape yourself
Clean or god will never sit with you right here
Before the alter, the polished wooden pulpit
At the Sunday show.
You have the wrong spirit, I’ll put my hands
All over you and shout you clean, you unbeliever!
Come to god! Come, he loves you,
Come, he wants to eat you.
He’ll break your habits off you, do you want success?
Some money in your back account?
Then give it to me first,
Or you’re cursed.
Oh, I’m sorry, was that cruel?
You know I love you and all your children-
We have programs for them too, you know.
Let us in the room with them.
The Girl
I woke and He was there.
My breath caught,
I couldn’t help it.
He was standing in the crowd
Of people looking right through Him,
Demanding proof
The righteous mark, the sign and seal.
They wanted to know who His father was.
“This man can’t be from god,
The law has clearly written it-
We know where this crazy man comes from
and that’s not it.
Look, it’s right here in
verse seventy four.”
They were looking straight into the face of God
And didn’t see Him.
God stood before them in flesh and blood
And they didn’t know Him.
They had written the name of God all over them,
But they couldn’t see Him through the pages
They adored- oh the pages of life! Oh the word of god,
Sweetly written on their behalf and interpreted correctly
By them, for their own sakes.
They shall go to bed with their interpretation
and sleep safe tonight.
I was beneath their notice, but I knew Him,
Standing so still in the midst of them,
I knew His quiet voice, so certain,
His love coming out in grief,
The sadness all through Him.
He stretched out His hands,
-and I couldn’t stand it,
I couldn’t stand there-
I ran right to Him.
And laughing, He caught me up close in His arms.
I didn’t know if it was
His voice or mine that was speaking,
Saying the same thing,
So softly, over and over.
After that, He lived with me in the garden.
It was hard at first,
To unlearn the religious
Rules of etiquette
Which He did not seem
Entirely interested in.
I expected Him to dominate,
But He was always so curious,
Reading over my shoulder,
Interested, listening, so ready to speak
Sometimes I couldn’t believe Him.
“Hush now, give me a chance to prepare myself
Adequately to hear Your voice,” I said, once.
But I was just speaking, He pointed out, puzzled.
When I went to bed, He lay down with me.
Shocked, I sat up straight and scolded Him.
“Don’t You know who You are?” I asked Him.
“Where’s the proper distance?
Your spouse is a city.”
Eventually, I learned to relax into His embrace
And we stayed up nights, whispering.
He was full of scars.
The first time I threw my arms around His back,
I felt
Gruesome, inhuman gouges running
Like ridges all through the flesh
That couldn’t be real.
I was plunged into terror at this
Thing that I held in the dark
Until I stopped by one thought-
That He had been scourged by whip laced with iron and bone.
He had been lashed to the pole and flogged.
It was scar tissue I’d felt under my fingertips.
I lay there trembling
In the arms of the Son of God.
At first, I tried doing everything
Possible to please Him,
Resurrecting bricks and presenting them,
All dusted off and polished.
Talking all the time to Him, a constant stream
Of chatter, hoping the words would hold Him-
Sacrificing parts of myself, hoping
He’d like the smell of in the air.
His response was not always all that I’d expected.
He took the bricks and looked tenderly at me
Out of those limpid eyes, so light, laughing, loving
He made garden paths with them, sunk
Into the earth, where the moss could grow over-
Everything was damp in that place, running with water.
We were wet all the time.
He’d take me on His lap and assure me
It wasn’t sacrifice He wanted.
He had to say the same things
again and again to me.
patiently explaining
It wasn’t my behavior that kept Him there,
It wasn’t my conversation
or my conviction,
right doctrine
purity rings
or high investment yields
that held Him
none of those things,
nothing like that-
I was inherently pleasing to Him,
Because I was His in the beginning,
His own creation,
Loved long before I’d been born.
I couldn’t do anything to make it
More or less real, but I could certainly
trip myself up, trying to unlearn my
first and most bitter lessons.
When I bent to worship at His feet,
He pulled me up into His arms.
When I hurt myself with harsh judgments,
He stopped my mouth with His kiss.
When I passionately declared that
His glorious robe covered all the earth,
That He led out the stars with His hand,
He bent and whispered into my ear-
I am meek and lowly of heart.
When I told Him I wasn’t worthy,
He took my face in His hands and said
That was His judgment to make.
I told Him He was the gardener-
He said, I am your husband.
I told Him He was my God-
He said, and you’re My girl.
I told Him miserably, remember when?
He said, I don’t.
I learned to lean into Him all the time
No matter what came up or how I felt.
It was like feeling
All the blood come running
Back into my hand after
It had fallen completely asleep,
At first cold and unwieldy,
Something not attached to me
And then
Shocking almost to the point of pain
And then warm and nimble,
Full of sensation.
The Beloved
We played like children in that garden,
Running, leaping over the streams and
Squatting down to see something closer,
To touch lightly before it lifted away
Into the hazy air falling
Down through bands of gold.

Curled up, sunk into the moss,
We slept together under
Banks of fern, under the beeches,
The little foxes peeking out,
Badgers and deer leaping through the shadows,
The air full of the scent of lilies and lilacs,
Green grass and slow moving water,
Cinnamon, saffron and myrrh.
The stars tilted past
Sometimes the moon came out and
We would greet her.
Each day I taught my lover-
She was such a quick student,
Tumbling ahead of her lessons.
Taking tight hold of my robe
Whenever something frightened her.
Which was often, as I unwound
the layers of lies
That had constricted her spirit.
Overshadowing her, I would point out
The missing piece, the love to which her fear
Had left her blind.
Her fear was sometimes so crippling
She couldn’t even hear,
Her eyes wide, white and staring.
I took her in my arms and rocked her,
Singing to her,
My voice dissolving that phantom world
Risen up around her.
She woke from terror to me.

I put her hand in my scars,
So she would know
She had never been alone
In that tower, trembling under the ceiling
Locked into law and paying the price.
Just one lock of her hair, slipping
Over her shoulder, as she knelt
Unaware by the river, was enough to
Undo me.
She was altogether lovely
I saw no fault in her.
I had her dressed in linen,
I crowned her with grace.
I tipped her face to mine and kissed her willing mouth.
The Girl
I woke with the taste of grapes in my mouth,
Sweet, sun ripened and bloomed over,
And sticky purple fat figs and red apples
That hid in the leaves brushed back
In the groves of that garden where we played.
One day our play took us down to that verdant
Edge where the rooks wheel in the sky
And the blackberries ripen in great sprays of tangle.
I paused, lifting up on my toes in the grass,
Caught by some low, disturbing murmur.
When He came, I caught hold of Him.
He let me go down to the edge, leading me
Through a narrow path, pushing through the briar.
We stepped out onto a burning plain,
Full of harried activities, the cries and shouts
Of labors and whips and chanting,
Scattered with jagged pieces of broken pottery,
Miserable huts and windowless houses built
Over the gutters of the unclean.
I caught up His wounded hand tight
Leaned in toward Him;
His face was all lined with sorrow and pain.
“Oh my sweetheart, who are they?” I whispered.
“And what are they doing, down there on the plain?"
He rested his face in my hair,
He whispered into my ear,
Those are my children. Go down
And we’ll invite them to come.
So I went down among them,
The dust in my eyes and caking my clothes.
I knelt by the first person I found.
He was bone thin and weary and pressing straw into bricks.
He was weeping, the tears grooved deep
Into the dust on his face,
And he ground his teeth in agony as he slaved at his work.
“Why don’t you come into the garden,” I asked him.
“Come in out of the sun. Aren’t you thirsty?
There’s a river there.”
“There?” he asked, his eyes wide with terror. “I can’t; I’m a dog
And must press the bricks into mold, for the city of god.”
He shooed me away and went back to his work.
I went to the next and she said, “I can’t; I’m a sorceress
And must press the bricks into mold, for the city of god,
and I won't listen to your heresy."
I went to the next and he said, “I can’t, I’m an adulterer
And must press the bricks into mold, for the city of god."
“What god?” I asked him, in bewilderment.
“Can’t you see He’s right here?”
The man laughed. “That’s no god.
That just the Nazarene,
unclean from touching lepers
beloved by prostitutes and children.
He’s nothing but a mad man.”
The man pointed his dusty finger at the sky.
“God lives up above, in the holy of holies,
and we are building a tower to reach him;
the prophet will interpret his unsearchable will
by sacrifice and fire
and we will go to war for him.”
The next, she sobbed, “I can’t! I can’t! I’m a murderer!”

Her sobbing shook right through her.
I put my arm around her shoulders
and bent to her ear.
“So was I," I whispered.
"I remember that desolation.
But listen!
That isn’t who we really are.
I know where there’s a river-
you can wash off all this dust;
it's hiding who you really are.”
“I can’t,” she insisted, trembling.
"I can't-
they would never let me in.”
“Those gates are never closed-
Anyone who thirsts goes through."

She was confused, but full of hope,
her callused hands paused in the work.

“But what about this city of god?" she asked.
"What about this tower we’re making to reach him?"

I could clearly see the longing,
Hiding shy behind her fear.
I knew it, because I had once worn it too.
I leaned in toward her, my eyes lit up
with the pleasure of what I knew.

“Listen, I’ll tell you a secret," I said-
“You are His city. He lives with you.”