To a Young Thinker, or Sermon to Myself

Poem
Appears in Summer 2009 Issue: Responding
June 1 st 2009

Notice the man with three grocery bags
in each hand; compliment his skill
at closing the trunk with his belly.

Do not forget your body.
You are earth inhaling, exhaling,
mud imprinted with God’s face.

Do not forget the grass
which shares your source, and the leaves
dead on that vine. Look around you: all this breathing
earth, walking, godlike.

Do not forget the color
of egg yolks. Of telephone wires in rain.
Of lichen. Of bubble gum.

Do not forget how well
your skin covers you.
How warm another’s palm is
on your shoulder blade.

Hear bird calls.
Try answering.

Remember the color of the lake
when light leaks
all over it at sunrise. Be awake
sometimes, on purpose
for sunrise. Trust the night;
it too is God’s. Learn quiet. Learn sleep.

Learn the names of your fears.

Remember the times when you are like a cello string
drawn awake, a held note throaty with longing.
Be honest about hunger. Practice hearing that note
in human beings. Pray them awake.

Notice your laughter.

What does your soul have to do
with grocery bags?
What is it?

Never forget
to keep asking.

 

Stephanie Gehring is a partial native of Portland, Oregon, and of various German towns. She holds an MFA in poetry from Cornell, recently fell in love with the Book of Kells through the lovely animated film The Secret of Kells, and is currently finishing a Master's degree at Duke Divinity School and starting a Ph.D. (in Religion) in the fall. Among her favorite things are yellow-orange roses, improv comedy, and reading good books while going on long walks (which requires less coordination than you might think).

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