Posts Tagged ‘A Thousand Vessels’

In the Dinah section of A Thousand Vessels, I explore the story of a young woman who is raped–then sought as a wife–by Shechem. In a vengeful rage, her brothers proceed to kill every male in the city. I’m sure they felt justice was done, but in the end, Dinah still carried the pain of her brutal attack to the grave. Of course violent perpetrators should face the consequences of their actions.  I can think of few missions more important than breaking up a child sex ring and bringing these criminals to justice. But in the end, the pain and memories remain. Fight for justice for victims, yes, but also take the time to reach out to them, listen, and show unconditional love and grace. There are probably more than you know, right in your neighborhood.

Drift (originally appeared in Nimrod as “The Hiding Place”)

At last, April. We drive past the forest preserve,

treetops simmering green. I roll down the window

and press my palm to the wind.

I’ve read that in spring, young girls are driven

to places like these, forced to huddle under damp logs.

Some are thirteen, some are ten, some are six,

shivering in stilettos and halter tops.

They draw daisies in the dirt with sticks

as they wait for the men to appear at twilight.

The girls teach themselves to float away,

drifting to the canopy of branches.

One girl becomes a wisp of cloud;

one becomes a squirrel. One becomes a sparrow,

flitting among the open spaces

until she alights on a bud. She perches there

and refuses to move. When the wind tosses

the branch, she dips and sails with it, oblivious

to the whimpers below, the sudden pops

of raindrops, the rush of passing cars.


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This is the week we’re all thinking about new beginnings, of course, with 2012 just days away. I haven’t made any resolutions except for committing, I suppose, to greeting my fortieth birthday in August with a hospitable attitude.

When writing the “Eve” section of A Thousand Vessels, I of course explored all sorts of geneses. I imagined a suburban business park as a new, wild land; identified with Eve’s first experiences with marital discord and birth; and considered my own new beginnings in marriage and motherhood.

In “My Daughter’s Hands,” I recount a moment when I began to realize that my daughter was a separate entity ready to explore her own Eden of discovery without me. As I’m sure many parents will agree, these moments are bittersweet: we must allow our own “creations” to make their own choices, good or bad, with the beautiful freedom God affords.

My Daughter’s Hands

When did you hatch these pink birds
that alight on everything in the house?
They land on power cords and houseplants,
perch between the window blinds.

At communion, I hold you on my lap
as I take a cup from the silver tray.
Every muscle in your body strains.
You want nothing more in this world,
love nothing as you love this purple vial.
Color swims there. Light bounces.
You whimper, stretch and shriek.

People turn. Yet I know the moment I say no
your world will begin to go wrong.
You will learn that most bright things
are never meant to be touched
and have purposes other than your joy.
You will learn the tension in my neck
as I shake my head to the beautiful movements
of your flesh. You will swim against
the current of my voice jutted with stone eyes.
And eventually, even when we embrace,
a curtain will fall between us
like the thinnest, coldest silk.

So child, take the cup and let it splash;
suck the sweet plastic and grin.
May your saliva roll down your chin and neck
like jewels, sparkle on your fingers
that have just this brief time
to fly over the world.

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Okay, let me be forthcoming from the get-go. I’ve neglected my blog for over a year and a half. When I started the blog, I enjoyed writing the posts; this is true. But a lot of other things crept into my life. Those creepy kids. Those creepy poems. Those creepy instruments begging to be practiced.

That’s not to say that all was quiet over that span of time. I published two poetry collections, got a generous grant from the NEA, and, most significantly, potty-trained a child.

But did I mention the poetry collections? This one, A Thousand Vessels, was just released by WordFarm Press. I mean, really just released. I haven’t seen it yet, but a friend of mine who got it in the mail yesterday said it was. . .you know, pretty okay.

“All right,” you may be saying, “this woman’s obviously returning to her blog in order to promote her book. What a narcissist! What an opportunist!”


During the next, oh, ten weeks, I will be posting my thoughts about one woman from the Bible per week, including a sample poem from the corresponding section of the book. (A Thousand Vessels is indeed based around the lives of ten women from the Bible. Some of the pieces are persona poems; others, personal, thematic connections to the women’s experiences.)

While I’m at it, I will return to my original purpose in creating this blog, which is to examine the process and experience of writing–and reading–poetry while stumbling toward Jesus. I’ll have time now, what with the diapers gone and all. I promise! Please join me.

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