The Architecture of Our Blood

The Architecture of Our Blood by Amanda Wenisch

I can learn nothing from trees
about the architecture of our blood.
What use is there in tracing back a line
to Scottish chicken farmers, hungry Irish, or curly-headed Brits?
I know it full in my prints —
the anger in the angles,
the beams of thick spiritual zest,
the floors muddy and beaten by the anxious pacing of our wide feet,
and this house sinking into sands, floor by floor,
until the roof is swallowed by time.

7.14.15 – 5.8.20

7.14.15 by Amanda Wenisch

Squash blossoms open into five-point stars
And wave in a constellation from the garden, promising fruit soon.
Today, New Horizons showed us Pluto after soaring through space for nine years.
It shakes loose in me some doubt of God.
How can in this vastness anything be sure?
How can anything see me, know me, love me, save me?
The breeze pushes through the squash stars, and they dance.
Then too I see the shaking marigolds, yellow dwarfs casting light in the gloomy rain.
I hear the Psalmist sing from them:
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?

I wrote that poem five years ago. Back then I still fretted some over my doubt, but these days I embrace it. When I start to feel the ground shake under me, I’ve accepted that God is big enough and loving enough to handle my fear and doubts. When I go full-doubt, all squinting and cynical, He does not throw at me wrath or shame. He follows me there.

The world, even the parts of it that profess to be Christian, is a terrible proving ground of God’s character. Because it’s what we see and hear and feel and taste, we can be easily duped into thinking the way our world reacts is how God is – full of retribution and war and violence and disease and backward justice. Pshaw.

Psalm 139 is how God is. And there, at the end, as God has followed the Psalmist to every height and depth, he does not condemn for anxious thoughts or offensive ways — he leads the Psalmist from that place.

Jesus is how God is. Jesus saw doubt and gave to the doubter what he needed. Jesus knows what it feels like to ask where are you? Jesus explained to the Father that we just don’t know.

I don’t run from my questions. I don’t tremble in my doubt. I let it be. I invite God into it. Surely, this too, must delight him because it means I’m still working — still accepting that, as Paul said, I only know in part. I’m still clawing at the truth of him. There’s still mystery to explore. There’s still love to give. There’s still feet to wash. There’s still room at the table. There’s still more of my life to lay down.

Yo, an earlier version of this had a huge mistake in it. I hope no one saw it. Whoops.

You Shall Feed Her

You Shall Feed Her by Amanda Wenisch

Hike to the back mountain.
There where the wild trilliums grow on the creek bank, steep.
They bloom through the dead leaves, white bursts of promise.
You will have to straddle the ground to steady yourself, squat low to get them. A snake may crawl about your ankles.
Braid the stems into your hair – dirty, curly, wild.
Save one bloom to press against your breast. Then pluck the petals one by one and blow them from your palm.
In the name of the Mother, the Daughter, and the Holy.
Pull off your dress and wade now into the creek, fat with last month’s snow.
Smile at the sun, and remember your mothers –
How they walked into rivers, hollows, caves, oceans
And spread their cracked-open bodies wide, poured forth milk, blood, tears.
Pull your daughter from your body now – she will cry, and you shall feed her.
Smooth-worn rocks will give way under you, spit you forth into a current that she will control.
See her now years ahead of you, in the bend of her own journey. See her look back at you and beyond you, her hair curly, wild. See her glisten among the trilliums.

Photo from Wiki Commons.

Extra Things

  • Throughout my childhood, my mom and I would make this excursion, out behind our house, over creeks to a spot where trilliums grew. They were never easy to get to, and I guess that was my mom instilling in me that lovely things are worth the journey.
  • Trilliums are native wildflowers that were traditionally used by native women to aid in childbirth and menstruation.
  • Susan Leopold’s article on protecting triliums briefly explains some folklore behind the plant but was eye-opening for me about our disconnect from protecting native plants. Consider reading it by clicking here.
  • This list of Ten Things to Know from “The Native Plant Herald” was so fascinating, but my favorite was definitely this traditional name: “Toadshade (for its resemblance to a toad-sized umbrella).” The image of a little toad using a trillium for an umbrella is nothing short of delightful! Read the rest here.