Monday, February 14, 2011

After These Words

. . .

Actually the conversation was between God
and Avraham: God said take your son
Avraham asked, which one? God tried your only son
but Avraham said one is Sarah's, one is Hagar's.
Whom you love, God said, and Avraham said
so help me, I love them both.

When it was all over God said
I never meant for you to kill him,
I only wanted you to raise him up.
But Avraham had forgotten
how to hear God's voice
and he never replied.

Rachel Barenblat, “After these words,” 70 faces

Sometimes you wonder why you ever wanted to hear God, such horrible things He says, but what else is there to listen to? The human voices patter all day long, it's like when I drive to Salem and the only radio stations are the deep dull valley stations playing country music that sounds like rock (without rebellion), or rock music that sounds like country (without conscience), and you begin to think of human voices as the cawing of so many crows, quarreling over carrion on the road. If there was truth to be found in human voices, don't you think we'd have found it by now? We know you can't get what you want and every cowboy is sad. We knew that before the exit to Woodburn. The question is, what now?

Well, once past the little knot of the Ankeny Hills, you'll be in the broad flatlands of the Willamette Valley, some of the best farm land in the world, and at some point there will rise from the fields a murmuration of starlings like a glittering dust, twirling and falling, cascades of reckless and grieving birds. And you can pull off on the shoulder to watch their strange whirling, a cloud of beating hearts following God knows what passion. Now that's a voice that has new things to say: even if it tells you, as it will, things you never never wanted to hear.

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