Poetry

FIRSTS: “Lord, Why Did You Make Me Black?”

FIRSTS image by sharpner/shutterstock with illustration by Cathleen Falsani.

FIRSTS image by sharpner/shutterstock with illustration by Cathleen Falsani.

I was thirteen years old, a freshman in high school. This was my first mission trip – a week of working in an elementary school in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans.

Inner-city urban experience, meet private-school-raised girl.

School grounds within the walls of my church, meet bars and constant police surveillance.

The students we were going to serve looked a lot like me, but I could not feel further from their experience 

 

At Easter, Poetry Helps Us Remember

Photo via Getty Images.

Photo via Getty Images.

Poetry is language made material.

It presents us with objects and the world, yes, that is part of its materiality, but it also – and perhaps fundamentally – makes our very language into a thing, rather than simply a medium. Like remembering that you exist in time, and becoming aware of your temporality, poetry takes what we are always immersed in and says, Remember; become aware.

Thus it is like all art a meditative practice. You must slow down, quiet yourself, and actively receive – a strange gesture, perhaps paradoxical, but one that is, if nothing else, prayer. And so for Holy Week, I want to present four (mostly) contemporary poems that can direct meditation without limiting it, that can engage prayer in our physical existence and the existence of the Resurrection as event, that can slow one down, that can build sensual memory of the acts we do and life we live in constant remembrance of it, of Him.

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