Love That Delights

Are there people in your life who light up when they see you? Who make it known they are happy you came?

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Are there people in your life who light up when they see you? Who make it known they are happy you came? I realized a couple of years ago how wonderful it is when people show that they are delighted to see me. This weekend I went to a cider press and saw a friend I hadn’t seen in months. She hugged me–a good, real hug–and told me how glad she was I was there.

I hope there is something about me that friends like this genuinely appreciate. But I also think that showing delight in this way is a part of who they are: People Who Love. When I experience this kind of love, it makes me want to give the gift of delight to others as well. It reminds me of the love of God, who is constantly opening His arms wide to me and telling me how delighted He is that I came. Even though I don’t deserve it.

And I definitely want to be like Him.

Is there someone in your life you can show love to by being delighted to see them?

Ripe

I have found the perfect apple.

I have found the perfect apple.

It hangs here, smooth and firm against my palm.
It has a lovely curve, pink streaks and a green collar circling the stem.
It is the perfect apple.

Here it grew five months,
This branch its home,
Its cells doing what cells do:
Their secret, private work.

Now, it rests in my hand,
Perfect,
And I can take it,
Break its connection,
Sever its strength.

It will go home in my basket.
It will feed my longing, delight my desire.

If I left it, would it hang,
Its beauty unblemished, unscarred
By knife, teeth, or time?

It would fall,
Its cupped stem’s lip unkissing the mother branch,
Shoving away toward the insistent earth—

Birds would eat it,
Or worms, or deer,
And then, the earth itself—
The earth, who eats all things at last.

Look. I will put the apple in my basket.
I will take it home.

No, I will eat it now, this moment.
It is ready now.

If I could choose, I too would go this way.
All of me—ripe, strong, sweet, ready—
Delightedly doing
What I was made to do.

© 2014 Deborah King

Five Faves for September

This is my first time trying this, so I’m gonna stretch the rules a little bit.

This is my first time trying this, so I’m gonna stretch the rules a little bit. The idea is that I share five things for the month that I’ve discovered, loved, and that made my life happy! Obviously, I’m a bit late for September! Still, here goes.

1. Connie Willis (To Say Nothing of the Dog, Bellwether)

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This is my top favorite for a reason. I can’t say I’ve enjoyed an author so much since I first discovered Rick Riordan. (You can read about that awesomeness here.) Connie Willis writes science fiction, but both of the books I’ve read so far aren’t at all like what I think of when I think science fiction (absolutely no aliens involved). My intro to Willis (hat tip to my friend Kim for that) was To Say Nothing of the Dog, a romance/mystery/sci-fi/just-plain-fun book that I had a hard time putting down. Most of the book takes place in Victorian England as two time-travelers (Ned and Verity) try to solve the mystery of the disappearance of the bishop’s bird stump, a hideous vase of sorts. I just finished Bellwether–the story of a trends researcher who is utterly un-faddish–and liked it nearly as well. I think what appeals to me the most about Willis is the way she fills her books with the most delicious details–history, literature, science–all in the minds of characters who are enthralled by knowing and connecting ideas. I am perfectly certain that if I met Willis’ characters in real life, we would get along.

2. Noosa yogurt

141003 Noosa yogurt.jpgMmm … passion fruit.

This stuff is amazing. I’ve been an Activia fan for a while (I eat it almost every day), but this yogurt may just convert me. It is like dessert. Seriously. So far, I’ve had the pumpkin, the tart cherry, and the raspberry (all amazing), and I fully intend to try every flavor I can get my hands on. I’m looking at the website right now, and THEY HAVE PASSION FRUIT. These people clearly know me. (Thanks to Shoshanna for sharing your snacks, else I might never have known what I was missing!)

3. “Overwhelmed” by Big Daddy Weave

I love Big Daddy Weave! This song makes me so happy. It’s been around for a year or so, apparently, but I heard it for the first time on the radio this month.

Here’s the chorus:

I delight myself in You,
Captivated by Your beauty;
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You.
God, I run into your arms,
Unashamed because of mercy;
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You.

Listen to the full song here:

4. Breathe Christian Writer’s Conference

This doesn’t really count, because I haven’t actually gone yet. But I am all signed up to attend Breathe Writer’s Conference one week from today! I have wanted to attend a writer’s conference for a while now, so I am excited to attend (and thankful to my friend Alexis for letting me know about it). I hope to share some of the highlights of it with you soon.

5. The Crow

1441003 yoga-crow-pose.jpgZe crow.

The crow is a yoga pose that looks like this lady on the right:
I’ve been working on it for a while (read: two years) and I can finally do it! Yeah! It feels really good to say that. (Please don’t tell me how you were able to do the crow the first time you tried. Please. Do. Not.)

Glorifying God by Being Myself

If you’re like me, you’ve probably struggled at some point (or still struggle) with what it means to be the person you are, with reconciling yourself to unwanted character traits, and with discerning which bits are good and beautiful and to be celebrated and which bits were better suppressed.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably struggled at some point (or still struggle) with what it means to be the person you are, with reconciling yourself to unwanted character traits, and with discerning which bits are good and beautiful and to be celebrated and which bits were better suppressed. I’m encouraged in this by remembering that God is a God who delighted to create a diversity in everything he made–from the insects to the stars–and that I can glorify Him most by living my life beautifully back to Him as the person He made me to be. That doesn’t mean I can justify my sin by saying “That’s just who I am.” It does relieve me from the pressure of trying to fit a mold I was never created to fit. It frees me to spend my time enjoying doing things not many others are doing and enjoying (like reading and writing poetry–ha!) and pursue whatever godly passions I have. It also frees me to embrace people who are very different from myself, thanking God for their very different sort of beauty.

Thanks to songwriter Audrey Assad for pointing me to this poem by one of my favorite authors, Gerard Manley Hopkins, who beautifully expresses this idea.

As Kingfishers Catch Fire

By Gerard Manley Hopkins

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.

I say móre: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is —
Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

Here’s the song “For Love of You” where Audrey talks about how this poem impacted her in a spoken intro:

Dry Bones

Molech was a dry man. His lips were cracked and bleeding. His tongue grated the roof of his mouth like sandpaper. His face was sunken, with cavernous eye sockets, a pinched, sharp nose, and hollow cheeks beneath jutting cheekbones.

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Molech was a dry man. His lips were cracked and bleeding. His tongue grated the roof of his mouth like sandpaper. His face was sunken, with cavernous eye sockets, a pinched, sharp nose, and hollow cheeks beneath jutting cheekbones. Fine lines etched his red-brown skin like cracks in the parched basin of a desert streambed, and his shock of straw-like hair, swept by the wind, flew back in brittle patches. Molech’s collarbone protruded sternly beneath his flapping shirt collar, and his hands, swinging by his sides as he walked, were skeleton hands, knuckles rattling against each other like giant, geometric beads on string. Molech’s narrow thighs jerked forward like stilts. His sandaled feet smacked the pavement, split yellow toenails jutting beyond the soles.

It was a hot day, but Molech did not sweat.

On each side of Molech, the City loomed in rows of silver skyscrapers and elegant office buildings. High above, the midday sun gleamed off a mirrored building, but its rays cut across the City skyline, leaving the street in shadow. Molech lurched north through the tunnel of buildings, pressing his bony shoulders forward into the strong, fierce wind. The wind tore at the awning of a local sandwich shop and hustled a mound of cigarette butts and crumpled yellow flyers southward in the gutter. It whipped at Molech’s shirt and his pants and threatened to tear from his tightly pressed fingers a small, white, printed appointment card. The hot wind smelled of fried batter and smoked meat and beer, but Molech was not hungry.

As Molech advanced up the street, a couple at the sandwich shop glanced at each other. They slipped off the round pub stools at their café table and went inside. Two water glasses sat deserted on the table. Molech slowed, staring at the glasses. He tried to catch the thing niggling in the back of his brain.

“Oof!”

Molech’s shoulder collided with a solid body. It was a cop checking meters. “Sorry,” Molech mumbled, redirecting to the center of the sidewalk.

The officer watched Molech stagger on. He saw Molech pass into a thick cloud of steam ascending from an open manhole. He saw the steam engulf Molech. He saw three teens stumble out of the steam, their heads turned back the way they came.

Molech emerged from the steam into a puddle of sunshine pooling down across a wide avenue full of honking cars and taxis and busses rushing east and west. He paused at the curb. He pressed and folded the appointment card in his hand, creasing it in two and in three. He looked east and saw the avenue stretching down the hill toward the bay. He saw the sun glinting off the water and off the steel cables of the suspension bridge. Agitated cars and taxis and busses were shoving across the bridge, frantic to get out of the city. He heard yelling and honking and the cry of seagulls swooping over the bridge. He smelled the salt air.

An attractive woman in red heels waltzed up beside Molech and glanced over. Molech looked down at her. He was very tall. The woman’s eyes widened, and she clicked off rapidly down the hill. “Taxi!” she called, lifting her hand. A taxi swooped up, and she jumped in, and they drove off.

Molech looked west. He saw the avenue stretching away and up the hill. He saw a huge hotel one block over with its name in fancy, shiny script set with white lights, like diamonds in a platinum setting. Twenty yellow taxis were crammed into the half circle of the hotel veranda, and more were lined up behind. People in suits and slim dresses went in and out under the wide blue awning.

Molech saw a dark-haired woman leaning against the smooth stone facing by the door of the hotel. She was wearing a wispy black skirt and a green sleeveless top, and she held a stack of yellow papers. Now and then she handed one to a passer-by. Her shirt must have been covered in sequins, because it glinted in the sun as she turned.

Molech saw her watching him.

A bellboy in a blue jacket and red gloves came out of the hotel. He walked over to the woman. He was big and angry in his uniform.

Move on ma’am, Molech heard him saying in his mind. You’re bothering our guests.

I’ve got a right to be here, the woman protested. She brandished her papers in the air.

Get on out of here, before I call the police! The bellboy gripped the woman’s shoulders in his hands. She shook him off. Her hand loosened and the wind snatched the papers away in a bright tornado of sunshine yellow. They whipped into the street and around the corner and one smacked flat against Molech’s thigh.

Molech pulled the paper loose and glanced at it. Melina’s Medicinals, it said. The woman stared back at him from the page, her eyes dark and piercing.

The light turned and the cars stopped rushing east and west and starting rushing north and south. A swarm of people surged into the street and Molech did too, folding the paper once, twice against his chest. He shoved it in his pocket. The people moving south parted widely for him as he passed, some staring and some blinking and some looking down and some hurrying by. Molech reached the north side and walked half a block, then stopped and looked down at his appointment card. He unfolded it and read:

Dr. Remus Kwakzalver
Family Physician
427 Green St., Ste. 530

Molech looked for the number on the office building next to him. Above the doors, large, brass, sans-serif figures announced: 427 Green St. Molech pulled open one of the etched glass doors by its brass handle and went inside.

Molech missed the elevator by a moment. He just caught a glance of a young woman in a pale pink blouse, her face slightly alarmed, hurriedly pressing a button, before the doors slid shut. He took the stairs instead. By the time he reached the fifth floor, he was breathing rapidly. He staggered down the hall to the doctor’s office and checked in.

“Have a seat, please, Mr. Molech,” the receptionist said through the thin slit she’d left open in the plexiglass window.

Molech sat down in a deep purple chair with red dots on it. He put his elbows on his knees and rested his head in his hands. He felt his bones press against bones. He felt the roughness of his cracked skin on his palms. He hoped the doctor could help him. He imagined himself going home and Leah being there. He imagined himself telling her: I’m cured! and her staying with him.

Twenty-six minutes later, Molech slid onto the stiff paper of the bench in the examination room. He wore a thin, sleeveless paper gown that reached his mid-thighs. The walls of the examination room were the color of dried mustard, with pinstripes of deep blue. The ceiling was the kind that looks dangerous, the kind with little sharp drips of plaster all over. A vent in the ceiling blew air conditioning down the open back of his paper gown.

The doctor entered the room. He was bald except for a U-shaped fringe of white hair around his crown. He wore thin wire glasses and a pressed, white lab coat. He wore thick white gloves. He carried a clipboard and a pen. His eyes flashed over Molech from head to toe to head again.

“Well, Mr. Molech,” the doctor said, examining the clipboard. “How are you feeling since we spoke on the phone?”

“Better, I think,” Molech croaked. It was a lie. He felt worse. He ran his tongue over his lips, but there was no moisture there to wet them.

“Hmm,” the doctor said. He sounded disappointed. He looked in Molech’s eyes, ears, nose, and down his throat. He asked Molech some questions. He listened to his heartbeat. He pricked Molech’s finger and put a drop of blood on a strip of paper. He asked some more questions. The whole time, he touched Molech only with his gloved hands. He did not lean in too close.

“Just wait here, Mr. Molech,” the doctor said finally. “This will only take a few minutes.”

Molech sat in the examination room and waited. He counted the plaster drips on the ceiling. He counted the stripes on the wall. He imagined himself touching Leah again, and her not shrinking away.

The door opened, and the doctor came in.

The doctor looked at Molech. He blinked. He cleared his throat. “The truth is, Mr. Molech …” He cleared his throat again. “The truth is: You don’t have long to live.”

“No, no,” Molech said. His throat was very dry. He stretched out a hand toward the doctor. “Isn’t there anything you can do for me?” He stood up. “Please help me!” he said.

The doctor stepped back out of reach. He considered a moment. He reached into a drawer and pulled out a tab of two poison-green pills. He jimmied the pills across his gloved hand like a con artist.

“Take these,” he said. He tossed Molech the green pills. “If you happen to live longer, you can get more at the pharmacy.” He placed a scribbled prescription on the counter.

“What will they do for me?” Molech asked.

“Kill you faster, most likely,” the doctor said. He wrote something on the clipboard.

“These will kill me,” Molech repeated, staring down at the pack of pills in his hand.

“Yes, yes,” said the doctor. He motioned for Molech to go. “Take them today. Call me in a week if you’re still alive.”

Molech pushed through both of the double glass doors of the office building into the street, clutching the green pills in his hand. He turned right and walked north very quickly. He ignored the living people streaming around him, their trajectory smooth and even as if he emitted a magnetic field that governed their path. He walked and walked and walked against the wind until he reached the rise of the hill. It was very windy there, and he stopped and leaned into the wind and looked at the green pills in his hand. He pushed one pill through the silver foil. He pushed the second pill through the silver foil.

Molech looked at the pills in his hand and dropped the empty tab in the street.

He rolled the pills in the palm of his hand.

Abruptly, Molech shoved the green pills into his pocket. His fingers touched paper, and he pulled it out and opened the yellow flyer. Medina’s Medicinals.

Molech crossed the street, turned south and strode down the hill. He walked so fast that he slammed into a woman picking out plums from an outdoor fruit stand. She dropped her net sack of fruit and gasped in pain, but Molech didn’t hear. He was half a block away already.

When Molech reached the cross street, he turned right and walked to the hotel.

The woman who had been there earlier was gone, but the tall bellboy, in his blue jacket and red gloves, soon came out. He was pushing a metal dolly loaded with leather suitcases, lifting them into a waiting limousine. A woman with a diamond bracelet and four-inch heels stalked out of the revolving door, and Molech saw the hundred she slipped into the bellboy’s hand as she seated herself in the limo.

The bellboy shut the limo door, and the crisp, new bill vanished, but Molech recognized the sleight-of-hand that slid the greenback up his sleeve.

Molech waited until he approached.

“Excuse me,” he croaked.

The large bellboy looked at him. His face paled a bit, but he did not move away.

“Move on, now,” he said. “Your type can’t be loitering around here.”

“I just want to know—”

“Move on, I said!” The bellboy squared his shoulders.

Molech thrust out his arm and gripped the bellboy’s wrist with iron fingers. His thumb found the bit of skin just above the bellboy’s glove.

“No!” the bellboy cried. “Let me go!”

“Tell me where the woman went—the woman who was here an hour ago, giving out flyers.”

“Let me go!” the bellboy screamed. He struggled. Sweat streamed down his face. Fine lines began to form around his eyes.

A crowd gathered.

“The woman—where is she?” Molech hissed. He stretched out a hand toward the bellboy’s face.

“She went that way!” The bellboy pointed over his shoulder, up the hill. “I don’t know! Don’t touch me!”

With a twist of his fingers, Molech released the bellboy, who sank back against the stone wall of the hotel. Molech lurched under the awning, through the crowd, and up the hill.

Once he’d gone a hundred yards, he slipped three crisp bills into his pocket next to the green pills.

Molech unfolded the yellow paper again and read the fine print. There was an address. He didn’t know the street. There was a small, hand-drawn map. He followed it.

Fifteen minutes later, Molech turned down a dark, stone-paved alley and spotted a little wooden sign that said Medina’s Medicinals. Molech went down the concrete steps under the sign. As he pushed open the door, a bell jingled lightly. The shop was dim and dusty. It smelled pungent and grassy, like herbs and old books. A fly buzzed in the rays drifting in from two small windows, resting on wooden shelves lined with jelly jars of varying sizes.

Molech shut the door behind him softly. Now he was here, he did not want to see the woman. He was afraid to see her, afraid of the way it made him feel when he hurt the bellboy. He walked down one aisle. He read the labels on the jars: Wart Remover. Sinus Pain. Mother’s Milk Tea. He ran his fingers over the jar lids, circling them, testing them, praying the energy from one jar would speak to the longing pulsing in his limbs, in his fingertips, in his throat, in his gut. Eye Salve. Digestive Drops. Goat’s Milk Balm.

Molech gripped the jar of balm and turned the lid. It was full of a thick cream that smelled like almonds. He dug his large fingers in the narrow mouth of the jar and scooped out as much as he could manage. He plastered it on his face, his neck, his arms. He felt a cool sensation flood across his skin. He scooped more out and lifted his pant legs and rubbed his calves.

“Can I help you?”

The woman—Medina, he supposed—stood at the end of the aisle, her back to the light, her face shadowed. She was taller than Molech had realized, almost as tall as him, and willowy, nymph-like. A thin line of light glowed along her smooth, bare shoulders.

“That jar of balm is $18,” she said.

“I’ll take all you have.” Molech searched the shelf for more of the same. He had used half of the first jar, and already he could feel the cooling effects subsiding.

Medina came to him and lifted two jars from a different shelf. “This is all I have,” she said. “It will take me a few days to make more.”

“I’ll take it.” Molech followed her to the front of the store. She set the jars on the counter and turned to face him.

She stared. “I saw you,” she said. “I saw you earlier.”

“I’m hard to miss,” Molech said.

Medina sighed. “This balm will not cure you,” she said. “It can only bring a little physical relief.”

“Do you have anything that can cure me?”

She pressed her full lips together. She rested her palms on the counter. “A cure is impossible,” she said.

Something in her voice tugged at his mind.

It’s impossible, Leah had said, standing at the door. You will never change.

But I love you.

Sometimes love is selfish, Leah said.

Molech seized Medina’s wrists. She struggled, but Molech pulled her forward across the counter and kissed her. He kissed her and kissed her like he had this one chance to kiss a woman in his whole life and never would again. He drank her like an athlete drains a glass. He gripped her like a man drowning grips his rescuer. He tasted her health and beauty and life and was not satisfied.

When he leaned back, the lines had already spread across her forehead and cheeks and down her neck. “What have you done?” she gasped through chapped lips. She looked in horror at her hands, her wrists still gripped in Molech’s hands. They were withering—shriveling and shrinking fast away.

“Sometimes love is selfish,” Molech said.

“Love—!” Her eyes were wide, watching him, telling him things he already knew. She was dessicating in front of his eyes, drying up, dehydrating, dying. She was dry like an old log now, dry like a mummy; she was breaking into pieces; she was disintegrating into fine dust.

She sifted through his fingers into a pile behind the counter.

Molech laid a hundred dollar bill by the register and put the three jars of balm in a paper sack. He shut the door of the shop carefully behind him and climbed the concrete steps.

The meter cop was waiting at the end of the alley. “I’d like a word with you,” he said.

“What?” said Molech, looking down the hill.

“Littering,” said the policeman. “Assault. Theft. Murder. I’ve been following you.”

Molech frowned. “You have the wrong man,” he said.

The policeman snorted. “You’re too easy to identify,” he said. “You can’t deny it was you.”

“Maybe not,” said Molech.

He ran.

The City was kind to Molech and hid him. He ran and ran, down alleys and up side streets, across restaurant patios and through crowded squares. He dropped the sack with the goat’s milk balm in a potted plant. He stole a hat from a stand and shoved it on his head. He ditched his blue button-up and ran in his undershirt. At last he ducked down a side street, sat down on an upturned bucket behind a dumpster and caught his breath. He touched his forehead. It was dry.

In the morning, Molech was not dead. He got up and walked. His legs ached, and it was hot and muggy, and Molech felt inside that he would die soon. He fingered the green pills in his pocket as he walked.

After a while, Molech came to a school. It was a red brick school with a wrought iron fence all around it. Children in plaid uniforms and knee socks played in the schoolyard. A little girl with a round face and thick brown braids watched Molech from the swings.

When all the other children went inside, the girl walked over to Molech. “Here,” she said. She handed him a glass bottle with a straw in it through the iron bars.

Molech took the bottle. He sucked at the straw, and a cool wetness flooded over his tongue. He sucked again, but the bottle was nearly empty. The last elusive drops slipped back down the straw.

“It’s empty,” he said. He was desperately thirsty.

“Come on,” the girl said. She wasn’t afraid. She walked beside him, she in the schoolyard, he on the sidewalk, the iron fence between them, until they came to the corner where the fence turned. “There.” She pointed across the street.

Molech looked. It was the entrance to a park, a small, green oasis in acres of cement. He turned to thank the girl, but she was running toward the school, her pigtails flying.

Molech walked to the park, his legs aching with every step. He entered the park. It was thickly wooded, with green oaks and maples growing up strong from the ground, delicate green ferns unfurling at their base, lush green grass carpeting the earth. He walked down the path until he heard the noise of water. He saw a bubbling spring gushing from a rock, flowing into a stream burbling by the path. He saw green willows bending along its banks.

Molech eased down under the curtain of willow branches and dropped to his knees. He set the bottle down, and his fingers sank into the thick green moss of the bank. He felt as if they were going down deep into the earth, as if he was being drawn in, down down down. He felt his hands thickening, healing, restoring, the flesh covering the knuckles once more, the skin growing supple and strong. He imagined himself touching faces—Leah’s, the bellboy, the woman—and the faces becoming smooth and whole. He dropped his head toward the water and saw his own face reflected in it. He saw that he was dry, and he knew that he was dying of thirst.

Molech slid his arms down into the cool, gurgling water and leaned his palms against the large flat stones at the bottom of the stream. He bent his head until his lips touched the water, and he drank.

©2014 Deborah King

A Car-Cleaning Angel

I’ve gotta admit I tensed up a bit when I saw him walking toward me. I don’t live in the best neighborhood, and I feel kind of vulnerable with my car running, my door unlocked and nothing but a snow brush in my hand.

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I’ve gotta admit I tensed up a bit when I saw him walking toward me. I don’t live in the best neighborhood, and I feel kind of vulnerable with my car running, my door unlocked and nothing but a snow brush in my hand.

“How you like this snow?” he asks, watching me swipe my brush over the trunk of the car.
“It’s pretty,” I say, smiling a little, telling myself no need to worry.
“Now this is how you do it,” he informs me, spreading his arms across the roof of my car, using his body to sideswipe my windows and doors.
“Wow, thanks!” I’m laughing now at this guy I don’t even know getting himself completely covered in snow for me.
“Hey, look,” he ribs me, “I’m all done and you’re still working on your side.” He’s got snow all down his coat, down the front of his shirt where his coat hangs open.
“Thanks,” I say again, speechless but smiling. He waves good-naturedly and wanders off toward the local liquor store.

Sometimes God tells me He loves me in funny ways. Like sending a car-cleaning angel my way.

You Are Too

He was standing by the inner library door when I came in, a funny mixture of boyish eagerness and innocence on his adult face. “Go ahead, young lady,” he said, pulling the inner door open for me.

He was standing by the inner library door when I came in, a funny mixture of boyish eagerness and innocence on his adult face. “Go ahead, young lady,” he said, pulling the inner door open for me.

“Oh, just a minute,” I answered, dumping my returns in the dropbox, happy from the autumn wind outside and my walk downtown.

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“Thanks,” I said, taking his gift of an open door with airy confidence.

“You’re beautiful,” he mumbled pleasantly as I passed, and for a minute, my knee-jerk reaction kicked in, and I brushed on by, not willing to meet his eye, seeking the inner sanctuary of the library and the anonymity of hidden rows. My creep sensors were on red-alert and flight was the key option.

I made my decision in about a millisecond, and a millisecond later I regretted it. He’s not a creep, my heart said. He’s a man whose simplicity lacks a filter. I had been beautiful, I thought, for a little while—the day had made me so and bright thoughts running up toward God and back from Him had made me so—but in that one millisecond I felt suddenly ugly.

What if I had looked that man in the eye, smiled, and received his gift? What if I had let him beautify me by his blessing, as God’s wind and colors had also gifted me with beauty this day? What if I finally understood that my beauty (such as it is!) is not a gift for me to enjoy, but for those around me? What if I had said, “You are too,” and returned the blessing on his head?

Canoe Song

Here on this water I collide with You.
I am clumsy and small.

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I

Here on this water I collide with You.
I am clumsy and small.

I blink
And the world turns upside down:
Your deep water grips the prow of my boat.
Your wide sky pries my heart large.
Your thick clouds twist under like a rope.

You are here and something is happening.

The cellos are tuning, and
I am a child crept into the orchestra pit.
The trumpets are mighty!
The tympani rumbles its part!
Soon, the world will begin.

I am a child at the adult table.
They are speaking riddles and mysteries;
Words fly high around my ears,
Wisdom willy-nilly flashing here and there like lightening.

I have come upon You at work.
I am a spectator.
I hope I will not be asked to leave.

II

Now I hear You.
Down You come to me, down, down, wet drops down.
You are sending me Your song.

All my senses are flashing
Bright thoughts from You to me to You again!
You are making the air dance!
You have welcomed me in.
You have told me my secret name.
We are laughing together, You and I.
You are making me as tall as the sky!

I am not a child now, I am a friend!
I am a lover well-beloved!
I am a strong tree, well-tended, deeply loved.
My roots push deep, push deep, deep down.
I am crazy rich!
I am more beautiful than anyone!
I wear a crown, and my shoulders arch back.

I push deep, paint the water on the left, on the right.
I push deep, deep. Left-left. Right-right.
We are painting the water together.
I am steady and strong.

III

There are ducks on the water, ducks and geese.
Every feather fine, wings wide, necks arched.
There’s a white swan on the water, proud and royal.

We are two crowned beings, you and I, white swan.
Bend your proud neck down to see
How well-beloved my Well-beloved has made me.
Flash wide your white wings—once.

I dip deep, push deep, smooth sail by.

I am on my way, white swan.
I am on my way to where
God is wringing out the clouds.

There is no laughter like the laughter of God,
When you are caught deep, deep in His delight.
I am terrified by the beauty of God!
I am lured by His oboe melody,
Luring the wind through the trees,
Alluring my heart.
His love song is so inexorably sweet.

He is making the air dance!
He is making the water sing for me!

©2013 Deborah King

Legacy

They are familiar to me as your hands—
These dog-eared book backs stacked in rickrack lines—

13Library.jpg

They are familiar to me as your hands—
These dog-eared book backs stacked in rickrack lines—
Close-clutched around their edges as we begged
Another chapter read—sometimes you would.
Spring Saturdays your hands would rummage yard-
Sale tables seeking treasure buried between
Half-mildewed covers, or, sometimes you drove
Us to the air-condition aisles where
The books were piled shelves above my head.
Those flash cards (stubborn things!) grew dog-eared too;
You flipped them through so many times I knew
Each crinkle, crease, or stain—though not the answer.
Funny how the words of Aslan stuck
When twelve times two would not. Hot summer days
Your hands taught tomato vines to grow up stakes
And peas on chicken wire trellises—
I pulled up weeds and wished that I could curl
Up in a chair and read. Late autumn nights
Your finger pointed out the Pleiades
Or traced the craters of the moon. I soon
Discovered there were books for these things too—
For winter snowflakes captured on cold slides,
For bluebells springing by the creek in June,
For all the rhythms of my happy heart.
These friends—they stand like cedars in my mind:
Tall worlds of thought and wonder. You—who sowed
The seasons of my childhood—know how
Deep down they push their roots into me now.

© 2000 Deborah King