Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Not Questions

In a place smelling of history and
prophecy and learned commentary
and psalmody and wisdom and love,
a place smelling of words holy and
profane, he heard the whispered
questions, questions stained and
torn with tears.

Can you love those who hurt you,
   can you forgive those who
   violated your body and spirit
   and heart;

Can you hope for those who
   imprisoned your soul, can you trust
   those who failed you so deeply,
   so cavalierly as if you were dirt;

Can you serve those who beat you
   and scarred you, making you
   nothing, can you honor those
   who ridiculed you;

Can you touch those who
   destroyed your tenderness, who
   laughed at your weakness, who
   doused lit cigarettes on your back;

Can you forgive those who
   ripped your skin with barbed
   whips, who cast you aside
   like a dirty, bleeding rag.

He smelled the history and prophecy
and learned commentary and
psalmody and wisdom and love, a place
smelling of words holy and
profane, the words stained and
torn with tears, and he said
these are not questions.

For other poems submitted for One Shot Wednesday, please visit One Stop Poetry. the links will be live at 4 p.m. central time today.
Photograph: Church Gate by Anna Cervova via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.


Jerry said...

To tear words with tears is a powerful image. The question statements had me reading more than once. So much hidden injustices behind facades.

Kathleen Overby said...

Mandela and Corrie Ten Boom would have loved this poem and so do we all who have been violated.......and are learning to forgive. This is one of your most beautiful word works. The alpha and omega echo.

Lori Heyd said...

Thank you Glynn, this spoke to my heart today. My best friend is going through an awful time with her Dad, who is being very mean and spiteful despite having her as a wonderful caretaker for years. Lori

Megan Willome said...

I agree with Kathleen! I think those of us who have been severely hurt often have fewer questions than those who hear our stories.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful and heart-wrenching... Thanks Glynn.

Hope said...

beautifully done! your words speak many sad truths. love the last line. made me think

thank you

Maureen said...

Your "torn with tears" image is a standout.

This poem embodies the meaning of persevering, because the only option otherwise would be to give up.

I think it also speaks to what Anne wrote today about finding gratitude and in gratitude finding joy. It is what is within that matters, it is what no one can take from you, even under the most dehumanizing of conditions such as those here, it is being able to imagine yourself held and loved, when everything else is lost.

Louise Gallagher said...

Oh my. These are not questions.


This is incredibly powerful Glynn.

thank you for sharing it.

Anonymous said...

Oh wow, those are big questions! I love that the questions are framed the way they are, caught between a first and final stanza that differ so marginally, and yet so life-changingly. Awesome write.

Anonymous said...

Loved your description of the church and your surprising ending that the questions are not questions at all.

Linda said...

I read and reread and come away with something new each time. This has so many levels Glynn. It is inspired.

Anonymous said...

I like the way you used questions in the structure of this poem

S. Etole said...

you have to know this carries the cross ... for all ... and it leaves me a bit heart-stunned

signed...bkm said...

Wonderful and powerful piece - would love it hear it read...reminds me of the Sermon on the Mount...and so much more...thank you for sharing it...one to bookmark for future readings...bkm

tuberider said...

I liked the poem, my only thought is that I found it a little distracting not to find a question mark "?" at the end of each question.

Even though the poem wraps up with "these are not questions," it distracted my thinking from what the poem was saying because in the beginning we think they are questions.

But it is a powerful poem.

Bubba said...

And he was right: None of them ended with a question mark.

(Just a bit of levity for a weighty topic)

Heavy One Shot, Glynn!

DEFINITION: the kind of comments that are made by snotty felines

Shashidhar Sharma said...

Dear Glynn

Great way to start a verse with a thought and then answer those questioning thoughts with a denial... I liked the verse... thanks for sharing...

ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya
Twitter: @VerseEveryDay
Blog: http://shadowdancingwithmind.blogspot.com

Carrie Van Horn said...

Glynn i think this is a favorite of yours for me....so much depth and power in the whole poem...from title to last line...truly amazing and thought provoking!

Unknown said...

This is incredible!

Marshy said...

this was an incredible read and very well planned and crafted...agreed also with kathleen..cheers pete