Conundrum Press

Those Evenings When All of God’s Conundrums

September 24th, 2013  |  Published in Blog

APRIL 30, 2013

 from Letters from a Stranger
Winner of the Colorado Book Award
by James Tipton

Those evenings when all of God’s conundrums
arrive at once, I look for something solid,
like the cook, caught in the lick of thyme,
when she looks into her red soup, pondering
the interminable tomatoes of the past,
or like the old man in the cathedral in Cuzco,
muttering under his breath, “Jesus be damned,
and the one good eye of the Pope too!”

These evenings when God’s conundrums arrive,
I remember the dead universities,
the knowledge that grew there like extra fingers,
until the hand was no longer able
to find a glove that fit against the cold;
I remember the words that fell like brilliant rain,
dazzling the dark out of the hair,
turning it this unruly and early white.

These evenings when all of God arrives at once—
conundrum and clumsy shepherd, three-personed and
inconclusive, like water filled to the brim with jugs—
He asks me whether I have any wool,
whether I have any weather left in me
to turn this drift of sail to land.
Only one answer comes to hand:
“Yes Sir, yes Sir, three bags full.”

When all the evenings conundrum together
to this single lost star moment,
God gathers around me—and I stare,
with the intensity of the feeble minded,
at some gap in space that leaves the ganglia flattened,
a gap that like some heavy iron passes
over these buttery cells, until even the very soul
seems to be only breakfast for some imbecilic chorus.

“We’ll be together yet, mi campesina,” I sing,
while guns and conundrums bugle out God
to the winds not yet born, to the lazy hearts,
to the ladder of day, to the fetal angels,
to the distances that always repeat themselves,
to mouths that open like sockets of eyes,
to the delirious roses that bloom on the cheeks of love,
to the herds on high, the horse that swallowed the sea.

That campesina conundrum also is not satisfying,
arriving like a country Madonna, a fixture on a tomb,
like gold faucets in the homes of the wealthy,
that campesina, that piece of bread, that rosy God
always just out of reach, that benign and treacherous
presence that sighs out hope and the false peace
of future possibilities, that siren against which
I have hoarded the wax of bees.

These evenings when God’s arrival
all at once conundrums, what I lack
in purity of spiritual intention I compensate for
with purity of desperation; and some compensation,
unexpected, sets in, like the subdued pain in the ring finger
from the bite of the Black Widow six weeks ago;
like the soft ecstasy that is sinking into me now
while I sip this delicate tea of mangos and marigolds
I received today in the mail from a stranger.

 

Click here to order a copy

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