Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Poetry Tuesday: "Eucharist"

I wrote this poem as I was thinking about Passover, thinking about Holy Week, and going to a quilting session with such a variety of women from such a variety of backgrounds.  I took some poetic liberties:  I wasn't really a lapsed Lutheran at the time, but I liked the alliteration, all those Ls (lapsed, Lutheran, longing, liturgy).  It was eventually published in Ruminate, and I'm happy to share it with you here:


I knead the bread leavened with beer,
stew a lamb shank in a pot of lentils,
prepare a salad of apples, walnuts, and raisins,
sweetened with wine and honey.
No one ever had herbs as bitter as this late season lettuce.

My friends gather at dusk, a motley band
of ragtags, fleeing from the Philistines of academia:
a Marxist, a Hindu, a Wiccan, a Charismatic Catholic,
and me, a lapsed Lutheran longing for liturgy.

Later, having drunk several bottles of wine
with prices that could have paid our grad
school rents, we eat desserts from disparate
cultures and tell our daughters tales from our deviant days.
We agree to meet again.

Gnarled vegetables coaxed from their dark hiding places
transform into a hearty broth.
Fire transubstantiates flour and water into life giving loaves.
Outcasts scavenged from the margins of education
share a meal and memories and begin to mold
a new family, a different covenant.

I like this poem, and other works like it, because they point us to the sacramental in everyday life.  The Bible, too, points us towards the sacramental in the every day.  Think about our Gospel lesson from last Sunday, where Jesus takes spit and dirt and transforms a blind man into man with sight (and perhaps, vision?!).  Think about the elements of Baptism (water and word), the elements of Communion (words, wine, bread).

For today, I'm not going to recommend additional poetry, but instead a very lyrical prose work, Barbara Brown Taylor's An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith.  The book talks about discovering the Divine outside of church buildings.  It's beautifully written.  Taylor says things like,"Sabbath is the great equalizer, the great reminder that we do not live on this earth but in it, and that everything we do under the warming tent of this planet's atmosphere affects all who are woven into this web with us. Just because the land and the livestock cannot hire lawyers does not mean they have not been violated" (page 132). Don't you love that alliteration (Ls again!)? I'm always such a sucker for thrilling alliteration.

For the in-depth review of Barbara Brown Taylor's book, go here.  To buy my forthcoming chapbook of poems, go here

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