[from John Canaday's The Invisible World]
A Fast of God’s Choosing
For ye have brought us forth into this wilderness,
to kill this whole assembly with hunger.
— Exodus 16:3
Past one and still no vendor’s cart in sight,
no minimarts here on the Freedom Trail.
My hollow belly moans a kind of song,
like the west wind whistling hosannas
under the vault of the Old South Meeting House:
“When hunger sucks the marrow from your bones,
whittle an octave’s worth of fingering
along your fibula and then your soul
will pipe a song to make you weep for God.
And though tears linger on the desert of your lips,
resist their salty frankness, for it masks
a deeper thirst than you should care to know.
No, do not speak. Words speak of damnable
conceit. Which of us knows God’s ways? Your lips
should crack with thirst before you fold your breath
in speech. Thank God when he humiliates
your flesh beyond the compass of mere words.
A plump blackberry like a ripe bon mot
could spell damnation if it made you think
the fullness of a summer afternoon
meant jack. The scent of summer honeysuckle
blinds us to an everlasting emptiness
that mortal hunger only echoes. Praise
God for the deserts, famines, droughts with which
he seasons us when we wax fit. And bless
these vacant words as well. Inhabit them.”