Learning the Word in the Shell of the World

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PC: Michael Raymond Smith

By Bill Wylie-Kellermann

For Danielle and Matt, 4/28/12

it is
new as an egg nested high in the cleft of a rock
teeming precariously, with life,
and ancient, even as the rock itself

fresh as manna glistening the ground
of a wilderness camp
convened in the company of ungulates, angels, and wild beasts.
we travel light, learning this day
our daily bread – and nothing more

it is living and lucid in the school of Isaiah
harboring for decades, their mentor’s edgy and sighted poems
read, re-imagined, re-writ, performed as news
of imperial collapse at the turn of history’s hope and healing.

all as we stumble, hastening to keep up
shook by parables afoot, spun over shoulder
by a rabbi (this image of God) schooling us in the Way by walking it
barely sitting to teach
till in the occupied temple court
with spies and cops hovering

practically the spot where Paul was busted
student of Gamaliel and Stephen
organizing a movement
one road, one household, one city at a time
tell me what eklesia looks like
this is what eklesia looks like

and so it looked to hermits and monks of invention
trekking off again to desert huts
jumping ship from empire’s smooth and bellicose arrangement
there to gather wry stories and sayings,
to ponder the sparest in a cup

what would claire or francis,
(gone begging in mendicancy) say?
taught by birds and sister moon to pray.

wending their way to Gandhi’s ashram
clinging like warriors in a circle to truth
the deep thing worth dying for

Bonhoeffer had an appointment there
to re-learn the Sermon on the Mount
from a Hindu pilgrim with
salt of the earth and sea in hand.

but he was waylaid by events
necessitating a seminary underground
where he set the needle on a 78
of Negro Spirituals from Abyssinian
and translated them, guttural thick and precise,
as a stick in the spokes of a wheel –

find the cost of freedom schools buried in the ground

how does it all come round again? rise again and live?

it is in the silence broken by Audre, by Martin,
it’s there in Daniel’s poem telling Phil’s hammer stroke,
or in Dorothy’s little way
and Peter’s agronomic university
the Alleluia of Bill’s ashes buried

it is in the soil, the fallen grain,
the hospitable loaf passed, teeming and ancient,
hand to hand to hand

in all we have, and all we are
being enough,
it is

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