Man Shall Not Live by Faith Alone

1.

I pose a riddle for the world
To solve before its sleep:
What holy day is it that we
Observe but do not keep?

A ghost runs through the clothing of
The people for a day.
The presence he conceives in them
Tomorrow will not stay.

A size or more too large for them
The Word made flesh, they’ve heard,
If taken to a clinic, can
Be exchanged for just the Word.

2.

Across the barrens of the days
The modern citizen,
Uninhabited, drags his life:
Christ must be born again.

The inns are closed for Christmas day.
I wander town and wild
For pungent garage or fragrant barn
That hides the Christmas child.

I stop to ask directions from
Some churchmen and they show
The Portinari Altarpiece,
The distance I must go:

The great of mind, the hired hands–
The lofty and the lowly–
Adored but did not touch as if
Space kept the infant holy,

Yet he who cried among the husks,
For whom the churches belled,
Was neither wet nor hungry but
Just wanted to be held.
–June 29, 1996

(“Man Shall Not Live by Faith Alone” appeared in the November 1999 issue of Perspectives, Ada MI.)

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Published on December 3, 2006 at 6:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

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