back alley and light, varanasi

Off the ghats. Morning, Varanasi, India 2011.

Off the ghats. Morning, Varanasi, India 2011.

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each thing called up dissolves

And what is prayer

but a way to teach—

Luisa A. Igloria, Solar

Each thing called up slowly dissolves, like foam. A word testifies, then silences itself. Something in me rends like wet paper tearing, and then prayer spills all over like a tide.

Years of lighting candles in the dark with the sharp sulfur of matches pinching my nose. Agony is only a story I tell myself. Salvation circumscribes the globe of my heart like a horizon. What lies beyond is a sea of light falling into dark falling into light. Prayer never lifted me in ecstasy. Living did that.

tithe

And it will not grow
any leaner, any fatter, any
kinder, any darker from the tithe
of your particular suffering—

Luisa A. Igloria, Excuse Slip

Bad night, nightmares, the wind sniffing under the eaves indifferent to my disquiet; the cold hand clasped late in the morning in a drafty vestibule, the bread broken, the body given and remembrance made but never, it seems, quite enough. I asked her the word for the problem of evil in the world and she said theodicy and the law student said I thought that just meant the word of God and we sat there uncertain and stilled. The tithe of suffering is paid in silence, which grows without gaining and retreats without lessening, ever, in gravity. Scars show pale against pale skin, the snow is only a shade lighter than the sky today. The afternoon hours stretch pregnant as the abyss, tithe paid but answers as yet unfound, ungiven.