by Caroline Knowles
You know me, you know my face.
I am the young man with the curly black hair
and the beard half grown on my chin;
not a strand of my hair is gray.
I am the girl without hair now.
Even my eyelashes will drop
away in the tears I hide from you.
Look, I am dancing
with my dancing partner—
this steel pole on whose branches
my chance at life is hung.
I cannot die yet—I never made a baby.
They tell me
“Well, don’t you believe?
Christ Jesus rose from the dead and lives.”
They tell me, “You will die to live.”
But my mother hugged my feet,
she held me and I cried.
I am a man yet I wept when she held my feet.
I cannot leave her.
Don’t you hear how lonely your heaven is?
I am a grown girl. Still I wept on my mother’s breast.
My mother’s hair on her shoulders
lay moist and dark with my tears.
My mother’s house is this world.
Who will greet me in another?
Listen to me. I am young, and there are none,
do you hear me? None! for me to meet
in that heaven where you beckon me.
My father still eats at life’s table.
I belong to this world.
You know me. Do you hear me?
I have not sinned. Lord,
I am innocent. I have done no wrong.
I do not understand why life’s tide
has turned and run from me,
and sucked the sand away beneath my feet
and left me stranded on the shore
in this waste of silence.
Hear the sound of my pleading
when I cry out to you,
when I lift up my hands to your holy shrine. [Psalm 28]
Bio: Carrie Knowles, an M. Div. student at the Unitarian Universalist seminary in Berkeley, just completed a year at UCSF Medical Center as a Chaplain Resident. Formerly a college teacher, psychologist and attorney, she has written poetry all her life.