Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit

I was delighted to get a copy of poet Tania Runyan’s collection Simple Weight last week, which fortuitously is structured around the backbone of the Beatitudes.

Another collection of Runyan’s poems, A Thousand Vessels was recently named a 2012 Englewood Honor Book (as one of the best books of the year).

Simple Weight is going to make an excellent companion to my reading daily through the Sermon on the Mount, and I hope to share a few of the poems here between now and Easter.

I begin today with the opening poem of the collection, one whose title are the opening words of the first beatitude.
This poem captures the spirit of Lent so well:

 

Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit
Tania Runyan

I am not made to pray. I close my eyes
and float among the spots behind my lids.
I chew the name God, God, like habitual
gum, think about dusting the shelves, then sleep.

It is hard to speak the capital LORD
who deals in mountains and seas, not in a woman
rewashing her mildewed laundry, while scolding
her toddler through gritted teeth. I should

escape to the closet and kneel to the holy
singularity who blasted my cells from a star.
I should imagine the blood soaking
into the cross’s grain, plead forgiveness

for splintering my child’s soul.  But the words
never find their way out of the dark.
Choirs and candles shine in his bones
while I doze at the door of his body.

 

(c) 2010 Tania Runyan. Used with Permission.

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