Jennifer Reek is a writer, editor and chaplain living in Santa Fe. She is the author of A Poetics of Church: Reading and Writing Sacred Spaces of Poetic Dwelling (Routledge, 2018), a work developed from her PhD research at the Centre for Literature, Theology and the Arts, University of Glasgow. Her poems have appeared in Amethyst Review: New Writing Engaging with the Sacred.
In the noonday sun we walk
side by side,
ready to put on the masks.
But the street is empty.
Except the crows
hovering, cawing, knowing
I have peanuts in my pockets.
In the movies crows are bad omens
who peck out the eyes of the dead.
My peanuts, offerings
to leave our rotting corpses alone
if it ever comes to that.
why must god always be man?
you can make your higher power
any damn thing you want,
a man once told me,
but i knew he was thinking:
as long as it's a man
why not rock, water, fire, spirit, sun?
why not bird, bear, love, mother?
why not knitter?
i saw god one time,
and she was outside
the glasgow glass house
eating an empire cookie
sipping sweet hot tea
in the grey day
funky big glasses crocheted
hippy dress and cherry red hunters
a size too big for her
a wee hobbity looking thing
she picked up her needles
and clicketty clacked away
and it was, for once, really
all rainbows and lollipops
the light broke through the clouds
the children stopped playing
and gathered around her
open mouthed staring
in wonder at her creation
and they knew her, for
she had knit them
in their mothers’ wombs.
Riding the train once seemed so romantic
I blame Hitchcock
that scene with Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint
their flirtatious banter in the dining car
the way she keeps her hand on his
a beat too long when he’s giving her a light
now every damn day I ride a train
back and forth, forth and back
home to work, work to home
trains older than I am
that can barely stay on their tracks
creaking with age and pain
I look at the conductors with envy
because they’ve kept a hint of romance
I want what you have, I’d like to say
That navy uniform and jaunty hat
the snappy tool that punches the tickets
even that cheap short-sleeved poly shirt
that I only know about because one morning
a bold young man removed his jacket
exposing both arms completely painted:
mermaids and jellyfish
anchors and mermen
dolphins swirling under the sea
ships sailing across the sky
everything in motion, blues, greens, golds
bursting forth no crosses or
Jesus cheesiness for this guy
big, broad swimmer’s shoulders
Popeye arms, like dad’s
(dad could stay underwater for four minutes!)
I like to think the Connecticut scenes
from the train windows inspired the tats:
white sails catching a good wind in the Sound
laughing gulls diving into the Housatonic
I like to think the tattooed man
sailed the seas himself
swam with the dolphins and whales
loved a mermaid as a merman
in ancient seas long, long ago
‘I love you’ I want to say
‘come sit with me and tell me tales’
that take me over and under the sea.