Weaving a maze of sticky threads,
the spider busies itself making a home
that sparkles innocuously in the morning dew.
A fly lands,
lulled in by the beauty and
The spider closes in,
wrapping the fly tightly
in the filament,
a swaddle not meant to insulate
but to incapacitate,
into a pale
The way all the muscles
in my jaw and back clench
when I feel the gaze of a nearby man,
it’s no wonder I have knots in my neck.
I remind my hips
to relax into the earth,
grounding back into their Mother,
who does not recoil
when we mine her for all she’s worth
and gaze hungrily at her beauty.
Instead her mountains stand brilliantly,
her seas crash violently,
her desserts burn relentlessly.
She reminds me there is power in my bones,
strength in my muscles,
and fury on my tongue.
She shows me the resistance
after a prolonged winter,
of new life interrupting the grey.
“or whatever you want to call me.”
In the Kroger parking lot
she wears pajama pants and flip-flops.
She asks for money.
She says she’ll
but can’t offer her regular services
because she has an infection.
He wears a white turban made of blankets
and a puffy ski jacket
no matter the season.
He’s always in the same places,
walking up and down
next to the road
staring at cars,
never walking on the path
with all the other walkers and joggers.
he travels parallel,
ten feet away,
to keep either others or himself
Ten minutes into the church service,
a man in dirty jeans,
carrying garbage bags full of belongings
sits in the third pew.
A large, graying man in a suit
hands him a hymnal.
He holds it away from his chest
as if unsure how to use it.
But when the soprano soloist
takes the stage,
he raises his arms
making small motions
from his fingertips
in the air,
conducting her voice,
his own personal symphony.
I can’t understand
most of his
jumbled words –
and unavoidable mental illness,
his sentences all mush together.
But they are still lovely.
At first, I admire
his words –
like freshly born animals,
they are wobbly when they walk,
still slick with afterbirth,
eyes still closed.
Each time I ask a question
with a simple answer,
he has a monologue prepared
to go along with
his demographic information.
He pulls faded pictures of children,
who are now fully grown,
out of an old leather briefcase
and tells me where
all three of them live:
New York, Chicago, Houston.
by his relentless storytelling.
I interrupt his run-on sentences
with the questions
of my case work.
Where did you stay last night?
Do you have a history of substance abuse?
How much income are you receiving monthly?
With each question,
I see him return
as though he were
of his own voice,
just a moment ago
echoing off the concrete walls.
On an evening drive,
a vague moving shadow
appears in the street ahead.
I slow my speed
and recognize the shape
of a frantic, injured doe,
likely clipped by an indifferent passing car.
Her head waves around in panic,
her thick neck hinging wildly from side to side.
Another night driver
speeds toward her.
I stop in the road,
covering my gaping mouth with one hand,
bracing for impact.
But he sees her in time
and reveals himself to be
a neighborhood security guard,
turning on his green flashing lights,
neutralizing the threat.
As I drive past the scene,
I look to my left
and see her lying in the road,
resigned in the headlights.
Her head is tucked beneath her hind legs,
the road streaked with her blood.
Sickness wells up in my chest,
and I imagine holding her head in my lap
as the life leaves her body
so that she knows she was cared for.
My dear friends from seminary started a beautiful literary magazine called Lifevest. I was honored to be included in the first issue, and am even more honored to be included in the second issue! There are so many talented writers and artists in these collections, and I highly recommend giving it a read. Check it out, subscribe, and submit your own work!
Here’s a sneak peak of my piece included in the collection:
On Sunday morning,
the dusty organ tune
from the offering hymn,
accompaniment of sacrifice,
as dry hands place freshly sealed envelopes
into cold gold plates lined with velvet,
to the doxology,
Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
We all stand and the pews creak with our shifting weight
to acknowledge the holiness of our gifts.
As I harmonize the Amen, Plagal cadence,
the organist’s skillful transformation
of D flat to G major
that I, too, can