My poem “The Common Question” appears in Issue #11 of The Other Journal, an online review of Christianity and culture. The Other Journal features scholarly essays, creative writing, and artwork; themes change with each issue. Currently they are accepting submissions on Education.
Also worth noting in Issue #11, “The Atheism Issue,” are Randal Rauser’s essay on the proper roles of apologetics and personal testimony in making Christianity seem plausible to a skeptical audience, and Somanjana C. Bhattacharya’s article on how activists are pressuring Craigslist to stop running “erotic services” ads that sell trafficked women and children.
The Common Question
“What does Charlie want?” – John Greenleaf Whittier
Oh, the unfairness of being myself.
There ought to be a rule.
So many days as a little boy, so many days as a deer, a centipede, a Masai warrior, a wealthy old lady with too many rings, on an ocean liner.
And as a blacksnake, a woman with cold red hands hanging laundry, a boy picking dried corn out of the dust, a thirsty fox.
Myself even, or especially, on a good day: unfair, unexplained.
I want to be God, only without His mailbag.
Just an instant to see the plan from His mountain.
Then I could lie down satisfied in my reasons.
Because this world I am in is not the world.
And never will be more than my racing-away circumstance, my rain barrel.
Filled by the weather that happens here and leaking into the soil where the man of the house set it down.
“I want to be God, only without His mailbag.” I love that line. The whole poem does real justice to the frustration of not knowing our context. If only we knew some other ways of being – or better yet, the master plan – then we could be content in our particular corner of things. But we never feel OK with what we’re doing because we can’t see enough to know how it fits in with everything else… Like being in the back seat, annoyed with the trip because we can’t see enough through the windshield to know where we’re going.