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You are here to kneel
Where prayer has been valid.

-T. S. Eliot, Little Gidding
... an ongoing project to write about various
New Testament figures ...

The Maker

When you jointed boards at Galilee --
did you think of how Isaiah said
your nerved and tendoned hands, by which the
nails were balanced till the head

had been driven well, had balanced heaven?
When you wrenched in order to reframe
a warped or rotted beam from an uneven
table, did you think of how the Psalm

foretold your bones would be disjoined?

The early morning when you woke to read
you would be marred out of your form --
driven flush in our guilt, full shamed --
did balance come in unrecorded

hours of carpentry?
Most of your life, you were a maker,
fashioning wood to meet contemporary
need. (Is there a plank or

splinter of the craft of our Creator
still buried in our menial debris?)
Your father was, like you, a carpenter.
With godlike art, his hands would steady

yours along the grain -- teaching you how to sand
a lintel or a paling, to fit them to hold fast
when God's own tendons came unfastened --
for a few lifetimes, maybe, to outlast

the fitting of your steadied hands to Calvary.
And did you fail before you judged
a temporal artifact a thing
of beauty? Did you grow weary, and grudge

the patience of our creative act?
Or while you planed and shaped material,
plying each finger's stubborn tact —
did you think of spanning a peculiar tree?

Of carving Israel?

The Prodigal

Then I will leave off hungering for husks given to swine
but not to me. I came here of desire, and found famine.

But there at home, the servants eat.
A hired man has leftover bread — my father’s wheat
is given to all his house, while I am gaunt

with hunger. And I will only work till I am dead if I stay where
I am. While I still can, from this mire
I will arise and go to my Father.

I will not be so bold to come before his face a son.
I spurned that. Just to be a hireling around the place would be freedom.

I have been crazed — far from my own self — though I have wandered far.
I have returned to my own mind, and lust to wander

left me. I will leave this outpost of utter
want behind now. I will arise and go to my Father.

And every day, I will arise and go to him — and say
Father, I have sinned. I am unworthy; and every day
he will see me coming a great way

off. So I will watch him running to meet
me till I die — when my dust will gather to its feet

out of old custom, however mired
I lie. I will arise, and go to my Father.

'Woman'

I am a woman who was drawing water at the common well,
one afternoon —


my life too common and confused in all its convoluted steps to tell —
for I had started seeking something true,


but I was false.
And every step I ever took, I fell;
and I had given up;


and I was merely coming to draw water at the well.

But You were drawing, all my convoluted way
until I came one afternoon.

I am a woman who was taken in the usual course of day,
and dragged into Your court to be accused.
I stood before You till the other voices died away:

You asked for my accusers,
and I answered 'No one' — while my heart said,
'Only You'.

But only You defended.

Till the sentence of the judge
Was your voice telling me my past had ended,
And I was standing in your presence, new.

I am a woman who was weeping in a garden
by a tomb —


and no one understood what I was seeking,
what I had buried in my years.
Not even I could fully understand
all of those tears.

You called me from the earliest garden, 'Woman';
asked me why I wept, and who it was that I was seeking.

All that I had known in part
was in Your voice.
When You asked, I knew
the thing that died and broke my heart;

and I said, You.

I'm seeking You.