Prayer Before a Driftwood Cross

(in gratitude for a visit to Agape Community)
by Marjorie Corbman
In the morning light, thick as golden ribbons
from the window to my eyes, I notice:
my fingernails are still caked with dirt.
The soul in the body is like sap in the tree,
— said Saint Hildegard of Bingen —
the soul in the body: a sweetness that fills us,
our clotting lifeblood, the food of stillness
when we reach up towards sun.
I pray: teach me this gift, the slow work
of tending, a day’s wild watching,
the peace the world cannot give (but that
a bite of sourdough and herb butter might),
knowledge of our tangled roots, and
courage to expose them.
Teach me this,
how to be a tree in the orchard
of God (in which, of course, there are many
branches) and how to hunger for every
worm and weaving weed and dewdrop that
binds my body to all this life.
Oh, our earth — fruited and budding, sunbaked
and broken, gnarled, bent, crackling with thirst,
stretched on a rack of tortured uprooting,
our nation’s theft, our killing, our curse —
We know, the offering of a single day
before a driftwood crucifix is
not nearly enough.
Still, if you’ll take it,
if you’ll crack our caked dirt open,
there might still be life left
to nourish a scattered seed.
Marjorie, friend of Jim Robinson, is also is a doctoral student and teaching fellow in the
Theology Department at Fordham University.

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