I met Jesus
on my belly
beneath a rock,
scratched and bleeding,
panting with the effort
to catch a single drop of dew
with my swollen tongue,
straining to taste its coolness
before it swelled,
and gravity plucked it
out from under me.
I’d been trying the same stunt
every morning at this spot for three days.
Now I was too weak to move on.
At the last moment, I hesitated.
It was like the whole world hit pause–
as if my need had been temporarily interrupted
or I had been tapped on the shoulder
by a boy with cracked eye glasses,
asking for directions to the bus stand.
I saw minuscule, swirling motion,
the unfolding of light into color,
and the vision of an Ocean, dancing.
For a moment, I was Empty.
Then hungrily, I drew near,
grunting with the effort
to pull my carcass across the sand.
I leaned close, extending
my tongue through crackling pain.
“Not like this,” He whispered.
I heard Him, and I stopped.
I squinted at the drop,
at its oscillating structure,
at its whirling, sentient equanimity.
“Brokenness cannot carry what I Am.
You must do it. Carry me with you.”
Without thinking, I touched the drop
to the mouth of a little glass vial
I’d picked up from an abandoned car
and carried across two state lines,
a mesa, through a committee of sleeping vultures,
along an abandoned set of railroad tracks
and past the dotted pattern of a running wolf–
hoping my scent was carrying the other way.
After it was in the vial, I sat up,
and then I cursed my fool self.
I jeered at the rock and smacked
my own head with my fist
and cried until I shook up and down
in waving, detestable heaves.
I hated my self for what I’d done
and for my crippledness
and for letting that drop of water
talk me out of the one act
that could have saved my dried out bones.
But I found I could walk, and so I did.
He never told me where to go or what to do,
but He told me other things–
about how the hills were made,
and the ravines carved out,
and the most ancient dust congealed into a ball.
On the fourth day I asked Him,
“How come if brokenness can’t carry you,
but I can?”
He told me how the very place
we were walking on used to be a jungle
filled with white, tree-climbing monkeys
and tasty nuts the size of a small fist
and fleshy melon fruits and yellow flowers
and even though the sun was the same then
as now, the place was surely desolate as hell,
But later we passed a grove of trees that day.
And a hummingbird hummed like they do
and did a zoom-zoom jig in very air before me.
The next day I told Him I loved it,
all of it,
even if was a naked,
strip of rock and cracked dirt.
Then that night it rained.
I held Him close to my chest
and we sat under a rock and watched
and I filled a canteen
and at one point I got up
and did something part Navajo
and part Scottish and it
yanked me in two directions at once and
very nearly broke my ankle straight off.
When I stopped I saw
two families and a donkey
gathered at the top of a rise,
looking at me quizzically.
We started traveling together.
I told them about how the mountains
in the distance had been made from scratch
and how rivers used to flow right where we walked,
and one of the little girls found a white flower.
One of the men was sick when we started,
but I gave him my vial to carry and Jesus
told him how stars conspire to make bones,
and bones conspire to stand men up,
and standing men conspire to make dreams,
and dreams conspire to make stars,
and by the time He got through telling that,
the man was a sight better.
We found the ocean eventually,
after crossing the mountains
into hills full of fruit and game.
One day I looked down in the vial
and saw it was dry as a bone
and I half to panicked.
Then I heard Him laughing.
“When did that happen?” I asked.
“When you took me in,” He said.
“When did that happen?” I asked.
Then He told me a story about how
the wind blew for years and years and years
and storms flickered across the sky
and men and women without thoughts
sang up the whales and the heavens
and leather-skinned beasts with horns.
Jesus is just how it starts for some of us.
We carry Him next to us until
all distinctions are lost.
And then it just keeps going on from there.