A Happy Birthday Poem for Liz McAlister

November 17, 2liz014

From Bill Wylie-Kellermann

Thanks be to Glory in you…
for a heart to hear and see and know this love
for conscience, spirit-hatched in convent walls, breaking out the door;
for community found, nourished of bread, and breathed as one
(and for the love which will bear its wounds)
for the fracture of good order in a time of sanctioned insanity
for conspiracies, east coast to west, scattered by missive, by car and thumb
toward a strange coincidence of action;
for making marriage a sign of fidelity, a sacrament of resistance,
an emblem of this gospel non-violence, anchor of house and community: a home abiding
for coffee at all hours, soup and bread for table talk
for keeping safe house christ rooms in a row house
for the downward mobility of basement digs
for making your bed in the belly, one whale of a paradox
for children risked and raised, more signs in the circle born
for steadfast endurance (intransigent resistance)
for the apostolic duty of keeping one another’s courage up
for banners, hung or held or hauled, backpacked and dropped like sudden surprise
handwriting sprayed on fabric or wall
for painting the town in simplicity
for the finer brushwork of watercolor bled as flower or advent text
for passing the book hand to hand round the circle
like a word or a loaf or a claim on conscience
for every issue being day one, year one, beginning
for truth red as blood or dark as ash marked and told on pillars vile
for facing the power of death without flinching or failing
for the fall of the hammerstroke against the idol’s iron skin
for freedom cuffed one to another
for looking judge or jury in the eye without guile
going on record, to speak of heart in the dock, the lives of children
for knowing the time to the read the times, for doing the time
rejoice! redeem the time!
for punchlines timed and delivered in brogue
for another finger of highland malt in the wee hours: to life!
for the tale of the deed told in tears and laughter contagious
for the infinite forms and capacities of joy
for house-raising ground up, every board a prayer
for making the graveyard sing with creatures, then ripen, yield fruit
for stones set right and inlaid home-hewn caskets lowered, earth to earth
for assembling a thin place to sit and remember, recollect ourselves, be summoned of saints
for mothering, now grand-mothering, your own (and even, as needed, others)
listen: for being the ear to test because truth alone will do
for being the voice to trust because love alone will speak
for turning even now this page, this dancing day
for breaking the rock with the egg: practicing resurrection

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