Morning light is low
And yellow. Dirt roads
Of the small town glow.
Cattle on the outskirts
Shine like gold.
It’s early June.
Buddha drops off
Her son, now eleven,
At Bible School
With his best friend
To learn the stories
From which she grew
In which to root.
From behind the windshield,
She sees young mothers
In long, sleek skirts.
Their hair is clean and filamental.
Their shoulders are not bare.
They carry babes on soft hips,
Hold small, washed hands.
Plump greeters in cartoon t-shirts
Smile at the welcome table.
A breeze moves their white hair
In waves like rows of wheat.
Cowboys for Christ,
A bumper sticker reads.
A puff of cottonwood floats
Through the passenger window,
Past Buddha, out the driver’s side.
The air is so many flowers sweet.
She sees only a peony
The color of lipstick.
Unexpected grief rises in her body
While she drives home.
The joy of congregation.
The shame of we’ve missed you.
The Spirit throbbing her throat.
The day it lost its name.
Perhaps she could return
One metaphor as good a door
If one remembers metaphor
Is only a door.
The morning passes.
Later, planting seeds with her
In prairie dirt, the boy confesses:
If the Holy Spirit, that part of God,
Is in each one of us, why do we sing
In soft, high voices “Only God is Holy”?
I don’t like to sing that song.
Later still, sunburnt, the boy
Sips water at the kitchen table,
Speaks of baptism in the name
Of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Buddha asks him, Where’s the mom?
His eyes search the space of the room
As he relates the shortest scripture:
Jesus wept. For Lazarus, his friend.
He then quotes God who spoke in flames,
I am who I am. The bush roared bright with anger.
And further, I am the Lord God,
And there is no other besides me.
Confusing books of the Old and New Testament,
He proudly pronounces numbers after many names,
Uses new words: Isaiah, Exodus and verse.
Buddha remembers when she first learned
I am that I am,
Considers who and that and Popeye’s what.
Her son declares this week
The best of his life
Though neither he nor his friend
Found it fair, at first,
When they didn’t win
A prize by school’s end.
That’s bull, his friend had said.
When their teacher realized
Her mistake, she gave them
Each their just reward:
Matching water bottles
For good behavior
And a flashlight to share
For memorizing God’s word.
There is no belittling light
Of any kind in its becoming sound.
Buddha wakes up
In the way words become flesh
And dwell among us.