Both are by my wife, Melody Takken Meeter, and originally published in the Reformed Journal.
The Pastor’s hands rise lightly as petals
above the lilies massed around the pulpit.
My eyes challenge him:
this week I read some theology, a book by Pannenberg,
and held my breath to watch him coolly discarding miracles
like the first drafts of the early church.
Virgin birth, angel chorus, healed lepers, Cana wine, demon swine,
none passed through his literary ordeals.
But at the Resurrection Pannenberg paused,
like an amazed reporter watching the unknown runner
win the big race.
He saw the body,
running secretly through the long years,
Body that rising burned its shroud
and burned its way through history home to us.
Today I challenge you, Pastor,
to spare us the pastel prose
delivered with eyes averted
as from His own naked body:
if Christ died for good, two thousand years ago,
then I confess nothing but that
a rose is not a rose
and those lovely lilies smell like death.
A nurse brings our new daughter
plus the new Time magazine
from its cover stares a child
whose tiny cranium curved toward death
forms a bony question mark
whose ribs like razors
pierce the sweet skin from the inside out
to underline the question:
Where is God?
while my daughter, placid as a frog,
sucks abundant life from me
center of her universe.
I dream about a demon
a charred face bloody face
calls me from a doorway calls
His robe of pleated light
fans in and out like gills
in each fold I read my fear
in fear I follow
down stairs that fall forever into black
I fall but reaching wildly out
the only solid thing I touch is terror
I cry and shake myself awake
certain that my daughter died in sleep.
Drops of water on my daughter make her frown
buried in water down she goes
down to the hell that Jesus knows
down to the blackness in my dream
down in the darkness to get clean.
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, here’s our daughter,
be pleased to make the most of her.
Open her instinctive fists,
like ours, ready to protest
any lowered standard of living
or one pinch more than a tenth of giving.
We give her, with misgivings, to the One
who sometimes like a demon comes
and takes us down to sight-see hell
where starving children wait in cells.
Daughter, receive your dripping crown
with its dubious title to travel down
shouldering your pain and everyone else’s;
gloria in excelsis.