What Shall We Say?

This poem is born from a question that I’ve been considering midst the circumstances of the past year and a half and especially over past the summer though some part of the question has been being asked over a lifetime. I believe I know the answer. By that I don’t mean that I “think” I know the answer. Rather, it is an issue of faith — that in spite of data and circumstances which may lead one to believe otherwise, I believe.

You may listen to me read the poem via the player below.

What shall we say to these things?
Shall we comfort ourselves with expressions
Like the “undeserving poor”
Or “breakthrough infection”?
Shall we shrug off grief,
Show sadness the door
With, “What will be will be.”
Or, “What killed them were their
Comorbidities”?
What shall we say to these things?

And what about the other things?
What shall we say about grace?
About the luck good fortune brings
From some source from which we cannot trace
Back to anything other than…
Well, anything other than God,
Whether we know God or not.
Will we deflect the blessing with,
“Just a lucky shot.”
What about those other things?

What shall we say to these things?
Homicide, rape, financial collapse?
And what of the sunshine smile
And great surprise of a child’s laugh?
What word could bridge that breach
And hold the two and reach
Across the chasm of confusion,
Speak peace to the broken,
Drain the venom of words spoken
In haste or with hate or both,
Holding together the sadness and joy?

© Randall Edwards 2021

Hospital Daze

Together we’ve rushed
Here to space six feet apart
In a waiting room.

Masked faces cannot
Hide the blank expression of
Our hospital daze.

Bewildered here, we
Stare at screens or out windows — 
To the world outside.

The daze lasts for days
As we surrender to the
Hospital’s rhythm.

The weight of boredom
Breaks open with urgent cries
And desperation.

© Randall Edwards 2021

Three Morning Haikus

Here are three haikus which draw from Psalm 30:5 and Matthew 5:4.

It’s waking this way
That’s the hardest part of sad—
Mourning by morning.

“Blessed are those who
Mourn, for they," the Teacher said,
"Shall be comforted.”

Weeping lasts a night;
His anger, just a moment;
With mourning comes joy.

© Randall Edwards 2021

Thirty-third Anniversary

A poem in honor of my wife who has endured so much.

You may listen to me read the poem via the player below.

Last January scientists from the
Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory
Detected that a neutron star 
One and a half times the mass of our sun
Had crashed into a black hole.
Sixteen days later
And some billion light years away
It happened again
Sending gravity ripples
Along the warp and weft of space-time
Till it found us.

On June 9, you passed
Beyond the ER’s event horizon
Into another universe behind closed doors
Where COVID protocols would not let me enter.
You were charted and mapped,
Broken open by quantum complications
Which seemed to leave
The teams of physicists
Who tended you
Curious but
Unsurprised.

But I was stunned
As I came to orbit
The surgical waiting room
Where I circled with relative disbelief
The grave matters 
Of life and death, 
Children and parents,
Fear and the unknown.

You became a portal
To the cosmic reality that life
Which can seem to run so well
Is imperceptibly good
And fragile.

Sixteen days later, we emerged from
Your room’s capsule
On our Thirty-third Anniversary
Warped tight by trial
And weft arm in arm
To weave our way
Through the hospital hall.
And as we moved through that universe
No instruments detected the gratitude
Emitted in waves of thanksgiving
Nor perceived the prayer and praise.

© Randall Edwards 2021.

Love Is Not Strength

This poem is based on 1 Corinthians 13 and in honor and memory of a friend and friends.

You may listen to me read the poem via the player below.

Love is not strength
Though it is patient and kind.
Not that it doesn’t desire
Or burn hot as fire,
Yet it does not quit.
It takes a seat to the side, and there it will sit
Through time’s tides and troubles. It
Does what it can
And with you stands
Ready to help, paying no mind
To impatient demands.

Love does not shine.
It does not put me first or over other’s climb
Or grab with greed, yelling,
Mine. Mine. 
Mine!

Love cannot keep you from grief
But only makes sadness more certain
Only makes the inevitable hurting
Of goodbye sure.

Love cannot keep others from leaving.
It cannot make them stay.
Love is not enough
To keep any from going away.
It cannot keep.
But of those wrongs, the slights,
The thoughtless words said in jest, 
The deeds that were nothing near the best
One could be?
Love keeps no record of the wrong
Whether they happened today or time long
Since gone.

Love cannot heal. It cannot make anyone well.
If they are sick and dying,
It’s not like some spell
That can magically make them right.
Though if you love, love just may keep you awake
Night after night,
After night.

Love makes no demand.
It does not have to have its say
Which means that things may not go your way.
And so love oftentimes weeps
Or grieves what it may not keep.

Love takes no delight in the cruel
Or wicked things which others say or do,
But love rejoices in the true.
And when seeing the truth
Love bears all things,
And in so doing
Carries the weight of waiting
For the other to come ‘round
Or for the time when what was lost
Is at last found.

Love cannot keep, make, or do,
Yet it believes all things which means
He still believes in you.
Yes, love may be blind.
It cannot see the hope.
(Who hopes in what they can see?)
But with hope in faith
Love looks down the drive,
Expecting any moment to see you.
You, who were thought to be dead, alive
Walking up to the house.

Love is not strength
Though it endures all things:
Whether fearing the grave
Or the pain of death’s sting.
Love never fails,
Is on time, never late.
For it always hopes, always trusts,
And waits and waits
And waits…

© Randall Edwards 2021.
This poem is for Christ’s church. If it is helpful, please feel free to copy or reprint in church bulletins, read aloud, or repost. I only ask that an attribution be cited to myself (Randall Edwards) and this blog (backwardmutters.com).