Copyright (c) 1996 First Things 66 (October 1996): 26, 29, 73.


I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.
-----Mary Oliver

Even on hot days the tall grass
keeps water in the veins and folds
of its body. Running, my legs are splashed
then sticky with spiders' webs
and the foamy nests of insects
who want the grassy water so much
they will build their homes among it.

Like the insects, I draw water
from the grass whose body is built to collect it.
For only water's flow through me
makes my running possible.
In return I name grass and spider;
I measure them into creation.

Some compare the prairie
to a heaven of yearning
beyond the covering sky-
I let visitors pass unnamed

for I will run here with my own.
Our dwelling awaits you, our names call out to you.
We think of you walking your planted field
and eating the fruit of its grain.
We wait here for your return,
when you will fill the place like water,
being everywhere in what you made,
and we'll see that Canaan is all creation,
that its names are ours and we've always been there,
only missing you.

Michael R. Jones

Faith and Hope

But having this hope for what we cannot yet see, we are able to wait for it with persevering confidence.
Romans 8:25

As for Powell on the Colorado,
relaxed at the tiller, sextant laid aside,
the canyon assembling the web of rivers
downward for as long as it takes
to cut to the root of the world,

the flow of the empty place consoles us,
attention awakens as we're slipping
down river at night. It's our work to wait
in this motion, faithful, alert, downstream.

We know faith comes from waiting. We wait
and we do not believe, or we believe
by a word made-God knows how-of words.
Hearing, we know there is farther to go.

There the river bends and stretches our hope,
there is nothing but motion: the current
which seems to follow the canyon is sextant
and tiller, making and mapping, always
unseen, even to the root of the world.

Michael R. Jones

Football Saturday Afternoons, Athens, Ohio, 1953-56

Even in deep
Indian summer all wore hats.

Always before the end out they
stooped a rank at a time
to waiting buses.

Not a face dead
across could you read
close up. Once I grabbed
a freshman's spyglasses the nearer
to observe for the science of the occasion.

a clicked pass or
first down

None stood or cheered.
None appeared
to move.

I knew then why
we used that word,
that time's handle for
those like them brought be-
neath ticking toward Thanksgiving
dour squat suns in coal country gone sour

for an hour frozen in retreat
from the Athens State
Hospital, insane.

Saul Bennett