His Murderer and His Keeper

326044514_cedf60b870_mSome days I can’t remember: Am I Abel or Cain?

Blackberry soda in the afternoon sun. I talk with a friend who recounts her anger and, before she meets with those who aroused it, it’s softening. Blue heart of flame, her eyes purify the avenue, its commerce, its air. I am alive. I must be Cain.

Once, I was a shepherd. Now I am reduced to this: a symbol. My brother discovered his black heart when he heard me in the field, singing, offering the best of my flock. God loves my poetry. In response, my brother stoned me. Because back then no one knew when the soul leaves the body, he pummeled me beyond necessity. Even to this hour he continues, pelting me with rubble, rockets—whatever’s at hand. An innocent man, dead. I must be Abel. [Read more...]

A House Blessed

vincent-van-gogh-paintings-from-the-yellow-house-4The doorbell rang around 11:00 a.m. My hubby George and I were both upstairs.

“Can you get it?” I called to him from my study.

“Nope, I’m changing my clothes. I don’t have pants on,” he answered.

So I ran downstairs and opened the door.

A small woman stood there smiling, wearing a suit and a straw hat that seemed to be from an era long past. She looked to be in her early sixties. “I’m Rose Goldman,” she said. “I grew up in this house.”

“How lovely,” I replied.

Not missing a beat, she continued, “I know it’s odd to have a stranger come to your door, and I’d understand if you weren’t comfortable letting me in, but…” [Read more...]

Blow on the Coal of the Heart

candlesI light the first candle of Advent. We have no wreath. This is our first Christmas in the evergreen forests of Northern Michigan, and bringing branches inside seems redundant. Besides, there hasn’t been time. I’ve been coughing and wheezing since I caught a late September cold I can’t shake.

We have to wake before the weak winter sun rises to get our daughter to school. The roads are slick and icy and the commute into town takes twice as long as usual. There are parties and performances to attend and presents to buy and three family birthdays to observe.

The candle is an ordinary white candle, not purple or pink. I don’t know where to buy Advent supplies in town and I ran out of time to order online. [Read more...]

Living on the Threshold

Guest Post

By Elizabeth Kalman

My house sits on the edge of a salt marsh in Charleston, South Carolina. On one side of the house is the street, on the other, the marsh, teeming with life. I have a fence between my yard and the marsh, but the crabs, snakes, rats, and cockroaches all ignore it. The Night herons, in particular, use the fence as a perching place before they hop down and crap on my deck.

The bank is about to foreclose on this house, so I live on a threshold between homeownership and something else, something unknown. And that unknown place is where God keeps me. For better or for worse, here I am.

I got some insight into the meaning of thresholds last summer when I returned to Nantucket Island—my hometown—to help my son get his house in shape for the rental market. I pulled weeds and hauled stuff to the dump and painted, but every Tuesday evening I gathered up my notebook and scraps of poems and walked into town for a poetry workshop led by Greg Orr.

We met on the second floor of Mitchell’s Book Corner: Greg, a group of year-round islander poets, a smattering of summer visitors, and me. I began to learn how to write a poem. [Read more...]