The Better Question

Aug 1, 2011 | 2011 Summer - Faith and Spirit, Articles, Poetry

By Lisa Shugert Bevevino

After 70 hungry days
and their restless nights, curled in bed
I woke up, and the question changed.
Good God, why can’t I just decide?
as absent as the fine white hairs
I’d waxed, plucked from my face to hide
the starvation, and there, right there,
almost aloud—Can You love me
for this? For this failure, this lack
of decision? I have fasted,
fasted and prayed for nothing.

My eyes looked to the wall, my head
too heavy to lift—Van Gogh’s
irises swayed, pressed together
in the painting’s breeze, faded blue
from purple after fifteen years
on dorm room and apartment walls.
In the corner of my eye
I saw that my hands weren’t clenching
the edge of the mattress as though
otherwise I’d be wrenched away
from my bedroom to a dark hell
of endless seesaws, swings, fences
that only hunger and panic
could create, a windy playground
from which everyone else can jump
or fall but where I am stuck, back
and forth, seasick from the swinging.

But there, for a moment in bed
it was the world that moved, and I
was still.
My ribcage moved up, down
jutting away from flesh, my pride,
my only pride in those ten weeks
now a space for air, breath, Spirit
residing there which we welcome
with each sigh—God demanding not
decisions but consents to love,
Holy covenants of ourselves.

Lisa is currently a PhD candidate in French literature and is preparing to marry a wonderful man who has helped her to accept all of herself just as she is.

Featured image: Painting: “Rebirth” by Jo-Anne Carlson


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