I cannot tell you why
I taste death;
the cupboards

are reasonably
the windows clean as rain.

Armies of women and their children
drift across borders in despair,
flies at the corners of their deep, round eyes.

I have tried, in my way,
with remnants of virtue,
to unearth God from the salvages.

Leave the wine and the oil untouched,
says the prophet.
Drought, famine, war

will mark the martyrs
from the thieves.
It is a subtle thing

for theologians to discern
who bears the holy,
who is winnowed
by death from death.

Kathleen Hirsch, author of A Sabbath Life: One Woman’s Search for Wholeness, teaches at Boston College.

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