Un(en)titled

“If I say, ‘I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,’ then within me there is something like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.” (Jeremiah 20:9)


I am looking for the hand, I say.

No, she answers with characteristic bluntness. No, you’re not.

Referencing the story of Peter stepping out of the boat
to walk across the water. Suddenly sinking, the roiling waves beneath his feet becoming more real to him
than the extended hand.

Only, these waves are not roiling. They are hardly waves at all.

The darkness smooth and cold and blind as glass,
closing over my head, leaving nary a ripple.

Still waters run deep, they say.


I am looking for the hand.

No, you’re not, I hear her say. You’re looking at the waves.

How can that be, when there are no waves?
Just this dead calm stretching straight out in front of me
and all around.

The Bounty sailing uncharted seas with no hope of returning
home to England.
Not now, not after mutiny and outrage.
I suppose the Captain should be grateful to be put into a rowboat instead of 50 fathoms under.

If Nero were alive today, he would not be fiddling. At least, not with a violin.
The instrument in his hands, a cell phone; his nimble fingers engaged in moving
brightly colored jewels across a glassy screen. At all hours of the day.
And night.
And into the day again, only to look around him and find the whole world sunken to ashy embers. Still smoking.

Still.

Smoking.

Their faces with their glassy smiles, as if they had not cut the ground out from under our feet with their rulings.
As if they had not swept their hands across the board and knocked all the pieces to the floor.
Burning the gameboard to make sure they win.
To make sure they will not lose.

Meanwhile, we congratulate white men who tell tales of courage, of standing up for what is right. In the face of the evil they created and abetted.


I am looking for the hand.

Are you indeed?
What color is that hand?

Pardon me?

You heard me.

What does color have to do with it?

Is it the hand of a white man? the white Jesus you were raised with?
Or is it the hand of a Palestinian Jew?
—you see?
It makes all the difference in the world.


Look for the hand.

I am trying.

Are you indeed? Look harder.

(The blood in my heart is like sand. Waves of sand. You can sink into the sand as easily as water. And drown just as surely.)


Look for the hand.

Yes, I must. I must look for the hand.

Everyone knows you must. Just
look for it, don’t speak
useless words of self-reassurance.

Look for the goddam hand!


Light flickers just above the surface. Is it enough? Is it too late to look for a hand?

(Drifting in this silence, I could sleep. I could rest. I could let go and let the water suspend me, let the sand envelop me.)

Borges’ priest in The Aleph. The Alpha. And the Omega.
The beginning and the end in one person.

Meanwhile my fingers dance over the keyboard, trying to make sense of the map I was given. In a place where there are no maps. Uncharted waters. Cast adrift. Broken against the rocks of an uncharted island, and burning the evidence. Burning the way back to the past.

When Peter left the boat, did he know that the boat was sinking?

Published by kbryantshipp

Preacher woman, musician, lover of justice

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: