Urn for ashes, woman

Apparently you can buy anything on Amazon I think as once again I am in a club I don’t want to belong to

He says what do I do now without her? And I tell him, she is not there. That is not where she is

Echoing the conversations between angels and other Marys

I tell him what I would tell you, or me or anyone–a dog on the street if I had to–

She is eternal and the pain we feel is that verification that we must seek eternity

Seek the one who can

Get us

Past our terrible selves

Mary Joanna Lee

Mary was born on January 1, 1993. She was born to ________ and _______and is survived by _____________________________________. She had kids with__________, who preceded her in death by a handful of months, days, minutes, hours.

Her children are bright little lights, and I want to gather all of them to me, sing with them, raise them onto strong shoulders, proceed with them in a march more wedding than funeral, acknowledge that no life is actually just a handful of years, months, days, hours, minutes, things smaller than that, things that can only be measured by Hands torn for

For her, for me

He precedes us in life, in death, in life again

Walk out of that grave, girl, walk into life

All because of Him

Restraint

What if there was no other choice? Or if the pain were even more protracted than this? This, after all, is mild

The woman in the windowless room notes there are no children in the pictures from the Kabul airport–where are all the children?

And in my attempt to swim off my fear and grief and anger, the lightning storm descends

So close to water, no rain

Songs from the Nerdy Guy

I have friend who is an aficionado of romance. I am too old for that stuff myself, but I tell her that

Jesus is like the nerdy guy who likes you at the lunchroom table you should sit at but what will the cool kids think?

Yep. I am way past cool kids and would argue that if that were a thing, the guy who pays it all for us would have to be the coolest one of us all

But he is ok being

The nerdy guy who

Sends us love songs

All the time

Paper Bag Analogies

It is scary not being able to breath properly. It looks like you have Covid lung the doctor said, congestive heart failure…

My husband told my daughters what pills to give me and when, bypassing me entirely because the lack of oxygen meant fatigue and fuzzy thinking

I had put my soul at the center of this. Dying was just a space in my peripheral vision, something that was going to be inevitable at the rate I was going.

I tried to sing these songs. Eventually I had to just sit in their presence while others sang.

I talked to Jesus about the pain and paper sack lungs. He told me he took the true agony of a pair of dying lungs so that I could be given

More time, heaven after

When I began to think I would actually live a little longer, I was still afraid to take it for granted

I had to talk myself into the river. Tell myself I could ease in, keep your head above water

When I could go under

Hold my breath

Swim again

I told Jesus I would never tell the story without full acknowledgement

He healed me. He gave me back my life at his own deep expense

His lungs for mine

Now I can sing

Silver Fish

The river hunter is

Undeniably majestic

Swooping down and

Hitting the water with ballistic force

Often to rise empty-taloned

This time though

It catches a silvery fish

Glinting in its grip, in a dying sun

The first lap the osprey skims just above the water

As though the weight of the fish is too much

Then back and forth

Back and forth in high parabolic circles

Almost as though this were something other than

The dying fish’s first and last

Flight

Jerichos

Long before her son’s whirling and untimely demise, my paternal grandmother believed in her traction with elected officials. I remembered this belief upon my first campaign, which was, parenthetically, about the loss of a single child and an unjust judge.

Who save me

would draw a line between Mamaw and the rise and fall of Hasmonean kings?

Amidst all this talk of unjust judges and rising kings

I tell myself there must be

sycamores in Jerichos still

Awaiting His return

Machine Translation

The old woman and the older woman sit down across a flimsy folding table. Between them there is a plexiglass barrier, the kind you might encounter now at a doctor’s office or the checkout line at the grocery store.

This time we all know we are contagious, right?

They type into complementary machines–one English to Korean and the other Korean to English

Do not forgive these Korean letters, forgive something else if you will.

The devastating depths men may plunge to

If the womenfolk fail to speak.

Rapture

Waited in the animal clinic

(It was touch and go those days)

looked up at the plastic picture fitted

over the flat fluorescent light

A joyful tangle

of cats, dogs, suitcases, lamps, unicycles

Bowler hats and other ephemera

as though a world populated entirely by domestic animals had

Lost its purchase on gravity

Things rise in a riotous jumble

Rapture, I think

One day we will

Rise and float

Balloons in blue sky