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Moving ahead

You can find me over here, now: Body Orthodoxy

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January 18, 2013 · 5:32 pm


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December 25, 2012 · 12:22 pm

For Those Weary of Prayer

Surely you know that time of night
when fireflies, tired of their own pulse,
float right into the mouth of a net,
when cicadas begin to sense they are
nothing more than husks for the chorus
that fills them. Surely you have seen
a child slough his trunks and run naked
through a sprinkler, crying out with joy
as you call him to bed. Aren’t you always

calling the name of what you love most

back to you, over and over, pleading, Please don’t

make me ask again, and asking again

until he comes?

By James Crews

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I sewed red thread into an old tissue last night. A tissue that was used by someone in our community almost a year ago. The day we wept tears that could be weighed in pounds. The day the floors of the Carlson’s home were littered with these white, crinkled, soft papers. When I picked them up they were still wet with the memory of what was–the death of 2 babes in our small, young community. Last night they were dry with memory of what was and continues to shape our identity.

Yet a new day has arrived and we’re caught. Between death and coming life, coming life and death. How dare God bring a couple and a community into this tension! It is a crosspiece that causes our heads to strain with injury to look up to the heavens with confidence and rejoicing, but how can we turn our heads away from the precious life that may be born tonight?

We are caught and this is a story we carry. This is the story I sew red thread into a small, seemingly insignificant tissue: declaring the life that surges through us even still. I too carry new life, several women in our community are carrying new life, which severely contradicts last year’s barrenness.

We are caught because in our Christian tradition we are asked to remember. And, not to remember in passing or glibly, but to feel, taste, smell, see and hear the past, which only makes our present moment more poignant and eternal and sacred.

Bring this new child into open skies, kicking and screaming with a demand for life. This is my prayer. May this new boy demand life and find it, may his parents be seeped in joy as they remember their first boy and make room for their second.

We catch and are caught today, something only brave souls see and experience.

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A genesis between words on water,

he and I

Speaking, experiencing, drawing out

a baptismal life

We spoke of metaphor,

but knew not of you

Rising to meet us

kicking and bantering and sputtering

about a future birth

The three of us,

born again

as mother, father and


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Stiched Hearts, my first performance art piece with child

I heard my heartbeat,

determined and paced

Deep in its contractions,

confident in its expansion

With needle and thread I mark the sound

With needle and thread I wound my fingers

The fibers,

fighting against my separation,

fighting against my pain.


I listen to your heartbeat,

elusive and fast

Fledgling in rhythm,

nestled in gestation

With needle and thread I mark the sound

With needle and thread I wound my fingers

The fibers,

rebelling against my yielding,

rebelling against my hope.


The fibers,

plead for continuity

and n’er a rupture!

They say, ‘keep them together’

the one behind my breast

with the other beneath my ribs.

With needle and thread I mark the sound

With needle and thread I wound my fingers

Ripping the fibers,

declaring the gift is without tether

Just as I carry in surrender,

I birth in surrender


Ecstasy is knowing,

our hearts held by one body,

our hearts fastened as one

so with needle and thread I mark those sounds

With needle and thread I wound those fingers,

and the healing comes

as I whisper,


‘I’ll hold you close and carry you far,

I’ll mark your heart and follow its sounds,

but I know you’re not mine,

my fingers bleed with this truth,

so be free child and resound all the way through.’

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Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last. To pluck the mask from the face of the Pharisee, is not to lift an impious hand to the Crown of Thorns.

These things and deeds are diametrically opposed: they are as distinct as is vice from virtue. Men too often confound them; they should not be confounded: appearance should not be mistaken for truth; narrow human doctrines, that only tend to elate and magnify a few, should not be substituted for the world-redeeming creed of Christ. There is–I repeat it–a difference; and it is a good, and not a bad action to mark broadly and clearly the line of separation between them.

The world may not like to see these ideas dissevered, for it has been accustomed to blend them; finding it convenient to make external show pass for sterling worth–to let the white-washed walls vouch for clean shrines. It may hate him who dares to scrutinise and expose–to rase the gilding, and show base metal under it–to penetrate the sepulchre, and reveal charnel relics: but hate as it will, it is indebted to him.

Currer Bell (Charlotte Brontë’s male pseudonym), December 21st 1847//Preface to Jane Eyre

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These Things I Find Within, Only Come From Without

I find myself tossed into a clearing,

hands clenched,

eyes crushed shut,

and my heart refusing

The sun is violent in its ways

It shows me,

what I have been repeating

over and over


Oh woman where are you?


I say with reticent,

silent words

It beats against my forehead,

and I give in


Oh woman,

where are you?


I exhale the muttered words

My chest becomes like quicksand

and all of my vain efforts,

crumble into my spine


Oh woman where are you?


Suddenly, it gushes forth-

Seek me out

Rear me up

Show me things

Grow me into this body

Teach me what I do not know

Love me in my crooked ways


Oh woman,

where are you?


I no longer profess


but weep over my vacancy

and unrecorded hunger


Oh woman where are you?


I am in need of you,

the sun has laid me bare

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Your voice croons, your voice finds prey, your voice is from the belly of the great blue whale

the prodigy, Laura Marling

the virtuoso, Anna Calvi

the ever-enduring, Emmylou Harris

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