I wrote this poem at the end of a day of trying to explain faith to a loved one.


Air


It seems absurd to try to explain faith,

easier to try to describe the Gulag: Cold and dreary.

Or a honeymoon night when everything matches,

at least there’d be context—it follows the wedding.


Faith, unless the person you’re talking with

has an idea of some vast hopeful sphere,

where there are no walls or hands pushing back,

a freedom beyond politics, beyond human nature,

where the spirit moves like a constellation

that lights the darkness that clouds the eyes,

unless there’s some grasp of the impossible

possible, explaining faith is like air filling air.


I sense and commiserate with Paul’s frustration,

trying to explain Jesus Christ to the Jews,

who followed the law and the prophets before them

and believed, in this, they were doing God’s will.

So why do they need this Jesus person?

Who neither looks nor acts like a likely candidate,

for Messiahship, for whom they’d been waiting,

for whom they’re prepared to wait some more.


Paul plowed ahead with his speaking and letters,

using every intellectual trick in the book,

telling his brothers and sisters the prophets had

set the stage for this present adventure. Except that

their lack of faith was a mountain, the one Moses

stood on, that could not be moved, just as I

walk around with a portable mountain,

between me and whomever I’m trying to explain faith to,

my personal faith, faith in the abstract,

filling the air with more air and more air.


Lee Stockdale