My daughter Anna Maria was born on Orthodox Easter Sunday—Pascha—in 2009. That year, the date fell on April 19. While her brother had blasted his way into the world at the very bottom of the night, in a delivery that was swift and surreal and unmedicated, my daughter arrived in the late afternoon as the sunlight was just beginning to dim. I latched her to my breast and asked my husband to run and get me a hamburger, fries, and… Read more

First seder, Passover 5778. Esther recalls climbing Mt. Pisgah in the early ’80s. She was in her fifties. Visiting her daughter and son-in-law at the time and first grandchild. What did I know about climbing a mountain? she says. I was from Driggs Avenue, Brooklyn. We were walking behind some other hikers, women older than me in heels. In heels! I thought to myself, when they turn back, I’m turning back. But they didn’t turn back. I’m turning back. I’m… Read more

Dear Saint Francis, I imagined I saw you today out of the upstairs window. Your cowl had slipped off your head, and you were fighting uselessly with the wind to put it back up again. The recently fallen leaves around your feet likely understood the inevitability of your struggle. Your habit, patched and torn and patched again, was the same dull grey as the maple tree under which you stood. I almost missed you, but your stigmata were bright red… Read more

My Good Friday plans got hijacked by 11:00 a.m. I’d forgotten the big “marshmallow drop” (don’t ask), and suddenly we were rushing around the house finding shoes and coats and plastic bags so we could join several hundreds of our fellow Evanstonians at the park. While there, we ran into friends, who invited us to walk over to the Steak ’n Shake. Also unscheduled. Now we were right by the Aldi, and I needed a few things for dinner, but… Read more

Moira Linehan’s powerful poem scarcely needs commentary; “The Sea Here, Teaching Me” becomes the experience it describes. Linehan turns familiar biblical images of comfort into images of desolation. The reader overhears the sea teaching how to pray, not to a god who is the Psalmist’s rock of refuge and protective fortress but to a “rock of a god” who is “immovable,” “impenetrable,” “glacial.”  Before this god, the “you” being addressed—the poet, the reader, the person of faith—is merely a “dot… Read more

“It’s the rhythm in rock music that summons the demons,” said the church community of my childhood. So I took my musical thrills where I could find them. In front of my grandfather’s turntable, I air-conducted Ferde Grofé’s “Grand Canyon Suite,” Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf,” and Benjamin Britten’s “The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra.” (more…) Read more

The band quit playing at church because our priest asked them to sing from the choir loft rather than the altar of St. Joseph in front of the sanctuary. They not only refused, they left the parish. At the music ministry meeting, the guitarist had said, “We get energy from the audience. If we are behind them, it won’t be the same. We won’t play as well,” which is likely true. (more…) Read more

“Without the traffic, silence / itself would sound red birdsong…” As I’m reading these lines in the poem “Seeing in Silence” in Murray Bodo’s latest volume, A Far Country Near: Poems New and Selected, I pause and ponder. How can silence “sound”? I could get literal and say that without traffic’s noise we can hear the birds. But that doesn’t catch the paradox of birdsong as silence. (more…) Read more

The best way to write about the third installment of God’s Not Dead is to write first about Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One. Their unexpected but undeniable tie is the desire to see yourself onscreen and what that representation reveals. In Ready Player One, people spend their time in the virtual reality called the OASIS (Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation). This story takes place in 2045 when the modern world has devolved into destruction. To escape the ugly state of… Read more

Wakefield’s poem presents the metaphor of a peach as the speaker’s body: “I’ll let the sun singe the peach, / my flesh, luxurious, ruined.” The image of the body as a soft fruit blurs the boundaries between human and nature, planting identity within context. In this way, “To Begin With” reminds me of Mark Strand’s “Keeping Things Whole” and Denise Levertov’s “Action.” The repetition of the “I” and the sense of absence joins these poems in a frank depth, one… Read more

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