by Vinita Hampton
Composed January of 1990, in response to Healing as Sacrament, chapter 5: “The Unobstructed Vision.” Revised by V.H. Wright, Easter Sunday, 2010.
They jut, half exposed in shallow earth:
unhinged knobs and splinters,
broken teeth that grin at the boiling sky.
Waves of heat roam low, simmer above the graves,
while small desert creatures traverse a ribcage
beneath the surface.
Perfectly still, void of color,
scrubbed smooth and looking permanent,
the truthful slain whisper of life’s severities,
of death’s panic before a peaceless void.
Until the wind screams a cataclysmic command
and the enamel-white seeps red, moves tremulously
within petrified mounds and breaks free,
sifting dust from rooted ends.
Insects flee, the sun stares upon new flesh that steams
and pulses among the rocks; the joints gather,
and skin stretches over raw muscle.
A mouth appears, its tongue wagging after forgotten syllables.
The eyes focus, and in the brightness tears stream
down nose, soft cheeks, and chin.
A person walks about.
A person walks about, raises miraculous fingers one by one:
an invocation across the hollow wilderness.
Yes, yes, when the vision comes,
the blood of the lost surges forward;
and lungs cough up powdery death to breathe again.
The soul grows back its busy heart and silky hair,
is at once vulnerable to hunger and harm.
But these newborn legs must walk—
away from pale sterility
away from bare, burnt valleys
away from long, sun-drenched sleep.
They must walk
to seek water and a vocation. They must walk
or stay and die again.