A thousand years ago, a colorful bird
flew out of an ancient tree in Persia, just as
a thoughtful boy opened his eyes. He never
saw it lift, only sweep over him in flight. This
is how he came to speak of God: as something
lifting out of view, as something sweeping over
us once we’re awake. Five hundred years ago, a
young woman saw her father beheaded in one
stroke by a desperate man leaning off a horse.
She would always fear horses and had a series
of unforgiving men and the last told her as he
left, “It was the desperate one, not the horse.”
A hundred years ago, my grandmother and
dozens like her, desperate for freedom, rode
the hammock of the sea to America. It took
weeks for the ground beneath them to stop
swaying. And thirty years ago, my father
couldn’t breathe on land; kept dreaming
of his mother’s crossing. Compelled, he
built a boat and taught me how to sail.
Now when I can’t breathe, I make it to
the sea where God fills me like a sail. At
times, I’m lifted by a wave I can’t see.