when I was fourteen or so
my family went swimming at the neighbor’s pool
past a broken picket fence
and a splash war almost drowned me
for thirst & lack of air in the corner
so I dove.
and a fist heaved me up,
as I stopped seeing, stopped moving, took my first gulp of water down the lungs
– my father heaved me up
as I was four inches under, and a fingertip away from his attention
I wondered if he would see me, transfixed, breathless, unable to move and see
– he did
hauled me up and held my ribs
as I gasped water out//air in,
both rattling in my mind like the bright sunlight.
I don’t feel my God, don’t see Him, and my heart feels like stone cracked as it broke bread,
and the wind blows, voiceless, in the house.
we threw balloons up into the sky for the laying in the ground of a little boy,and finis becomes not just a joy but a grief.
All around, the poets and saints are singing with all of their lungs,
all of their hallelujahs,
but my voice is gone, dried out like the water that no longer pours on my face,
even touch is a disconnect.
May I be so converted, and see You with these eyes?
You say it has been done though it is not yet here–
but these curled-up fists don’t save my heart.
I miss, I miss, I miss, I miss, I miss, I miss, I miss, I miss, I miss, I miss; I aim and miss
and stumble away from You in the same old gasp-
You have picked me up and dried me off in the sun while I hacked and choked
as air rushed into my lungs –
where are You?
I stopped looking in the hurricanes, and started
chasing, chasing, chasing
that still small voice that promised of You
like a broken, terrified prophet who was afraid to rattle with or without You
Elijah did not chase you (and neither did the four year old whose face found the sun)
he curled up, alone and shattered, and prayed to die in Your mercy (he ran and ran the race with endurance, with joy, with grace: while we watched)
when he wept because he could not see you, even though he knew you were there (that is when You whispered precious things to his heart)
and You came to him like rain in the desert,
You came to him, and that is how he could see You-
unable to chase, unable to withstand the storm tearing the mountain to pieces,
a fingertip away from you
and You came to him-
picked him up out of the sand and grit and choke and cradled him across Your arm
and the sunlight dazzled his eyes with light and breath again.
he wondered if You would see him.
and You did.
author’s note: a, no, I do not think I am elijah – I’m staring at a portrait painted for a reason and seeing an echo of something. as buechner wrote, ‘the story of one of us, in some measure, is the story of us all.’ b, I feel like I keep writing the same heartbreaks over and over, and I feel like that is two-fold. for one, the painful events that shape us are crucible-like, and while the wounds heal, sometimes they leave scars. the second part? those scars can ache and itch, but they can be a reminder to look for the bigger picture in that moment and beyond as new wounds come. as jason gray wrote, ‘the wound is where the light gets in.’ and as hosea prophesied, ‘He will come to us like rain.’ the resurrection comes.