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Sarah was beautiful. She rode the waves of faith and doubt and perhaps laughed at inappropriate times. She also carried a spark in her womb, the star that birthed a constellation of generations. When writing about Sarah, I too explored the depths of my doubt and the feeling of loss that accompanies every gift. The poem “Sarah Considers the Stars” delves into some of the emotions Sarah must have surely felt as her life and body sagged into what seemed to become an unending, desolate future. Small footnote: the star “scraping” through her body somewhat painfully refers to the release of an egg. Some women, myself included, experience sharp pain at the time of ovulation. That may be too much information, but hey–it’s all for the art, right?

 

 

 

 

Sarah Considers the Stars

“He took [Abraham] outside and said, ‘Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’” –Genesis 15:5

 

After Abraham feel asleep,

she pulled her cloak

 

around her shoulders

and walked out to stare

 

at the night. Stars collected

in the crevices of mountains.

 

They spilled into the oak groves

and clung to the branches.

 

And when she spread her hands

to the sky, they rested in the sags

 

of flesh between her fingers.

The world is dripping with stars,

 

she thought, and still not one

belongs to me. She considered

 

hating them. She considered

wishing a heavenly storm

 

to drown them. But she only

murmured, I am through

 

and walked off, holding

a sudden sharpness in her side,

 

as if a star had dislodged

there, and turning and scraping

 

and shining its path, settled

into the bare sky of her body.

 

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For the past few months I’ve been teaching myself Celtic-style music on the mandolin and violin (I mean, um, fiddle). The music has awakened some kind of energy in me that I haven’t felt in awhile. Just yesterday I stole away in a church hallway before rehearsal and fiddled some jigs and hornpipes from memory. I felt so free and at home, as if entering a doorway into a room I’ve had my whole life but just recently discovered.

I know with time, however, my playing will get worse. Technically, it will improve with practice. But the more I learn about Celtic music, the more I will discern my own limitations and create higher standards for myself. This process needs to happen, of course, but will I still be able to love the music in the same way I do now?

Flash back 18 years. (Really??) It’s my first college poetry class, and I’m all enthusiasm. While I had always been a decent writer, I was refreshingly ignorant of poetry. (I had planned on becoming a playwright–not that I knew a whole lot about that, either!) This was before my eyes were opened to the world of rejection slips, book publication, and conferences where guys in elbow patches give talks about “Line Breaks and Post-Modern Gender Politics.” I just loved playing with words. I distinctly remember the first line of my first poem for that class. We were to write a blessing or a curse. My choice: a curse on fleas. The line: “Oh, black bug of borrowed blood.”

I repeated that line so much, and still remember it to this day, because it was simply a kick to say. Corny, yes, but what fun! I’m trying to get that original energy back into my writing. One way is by “collecting words” and playing around with them. (See the book Poemcrazy for ideas.) The other is procrastinating by writing a blog about poetry.

We are reminded in the Bible to have the faith of a child. Not a naive or ignorant faith, but a faith full of energy (think kids), wonder, and delight. I think the creative life and the spiritual life work in concord in this way. So this week I ask, Lord, please refresh my wonder in you. And rekindle my wonder in words.

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