Once We Give Them Feet

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I’m folding up chairs because that’s what you do after eating lunch at church.

Or at least until you run into Harry.

Harry stops my work. He tells me that he and his wife, Margaret, have been praying for our family. They’ve heard something of the story surrounding our move to Winnipeg, but now Harry, 82, has some stories he wants to share with me. And he’s a much better storyteller.

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When the Light Turns Blue

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The coffee shop is a good place to begin a long walk of conversation. We begin ours with muddy Caffè Americanos.

Nate and I leave for a long walk along the canal. The trail leads us through melting snow and uncomfortable slush.

Occasionally, we stop, place our noses near our cups. Drink. And move on, stepping over a glassy black puddle whenever it comes.

I do most of the talking today, and the words roll off my tongue like vapory white ghosts. I watch how the voiceless thoughts take on new shapes when they’re delivered by the warmth of my breath.

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Red Heat

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Red Heat

on this day
in Winnipeg
even polar bears
watch us from Broadway,
and we sit and love
on these historic steps
leading up to our Hotel Fort Garry,
and hold, for a time,
icy bottles of cream soda and
the condensation and rings
drive us mad, with love,
and people hit their brakes
and honk at us,
smiling at your wedding dress,
here in the northern sunlight,
but then we had to leave it
in your parents’ basement, for a

time to cross

a country and then a sea
of wild rye and nodding needles
and the cold concrete
at the border station, with its
erect black uniforms, silver
sunglasses and
latex fingers and,
the prairie wind howls,
whips
at the bare skin of our heart,
raised today like a flag
between two countries.

Oh, Canada burns like a cardinal against our snow.

and so we roar and stomp
and leave one paw-print
of red
in our snow
and then go to bed
and wait for the visible
light to change
to faith, some smoldering,
infrared glow.

 

TS Poetry’s February theme of Red called for a poem.


 

Jesus Loves Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston is gone. But I remember when she was alive in my family’s kitchen.
As a boy, I was awestruck by the power of a Sony radio. My parents kept it high on a shelf, up next to all those red and yellow cookbooks and the potted green ivy.

Once I reached a certain age, I was allowed to touch the radio. My fingers stroked its walnut wood casing. I experimented with those clockwise and counterclockwise movements, exploring a world that went far beyond my small Indiana college town.

There, in the kitchen while helping my mom with the dishes, I heard a voice hit a frequency of celebration that only a soul lost and then found could reach.

Surrounded by the toil of clean and dirty dishes, I fell in love with The Voice.

Whitney Houston.

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Coffee With Gary

I met Pastor Gary Miller last week at a nearby coffee shop. Isaiah 30 came up. He said he would be preaching on it next Sunday. That might be why our conversation centered around the battle imagery.

Either way, we gathered around a kind of flagpole, confessing our rebellion and oppression.

We talked about the difficult paths. Those behind us. And those ahead.

Here, Gary turns and leans his back against the brick wall. His white hair is long, tousled over like a prophet’s. He keeps that dark jacket on, but not because he’s anxious to leave. He simply sat down and wore what he came here wearing.

Gary is that kind of guy.

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Stretching a Prayer

This is my seventh hour in the classroom, and the sun surprises me, clearing up my coffee mug with fresh peppermint tea.

Today even the boys band together. They’re wearing pink t-shirts for a reason. Especially the basketball players. One sits at the back of my room. But he’s not reading, at least not like the others.

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Even If China Attacks

James runs past the front door of our church to find his coat. He sort of skids when he looks up and sees Jesus standing outside the tomb.

James slows, then stops, and pivots long enough to find the holes in the feet, and the ones at the wrists. He soaks up the image in the painting, quietly, without the help of adults. And then he’s off running again.

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