Good Letters

Poetry Friday

silhouette of man in doorway, black and white photo via creative commons

What pulls me into this poem is the way we’re drawn into a cosmic drama which is, finally, salvific.

The title, combined with the very first lines, brings to mind Matt. 7:7, “knock and the door will be opened to you” and Rev. 3:20, “behold, I stand at the door and knock.” Holding these lines in our minds, we get an image of a cosmic crucified Christ, with “the whole world / spill[ing] through the hole he’d torn / in his side.” As the “wind” of the Holy Spirit blows through the poem, Christ is calling your name, our name, my name. (“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!”—Isaiah 43:1)

God is at our door, calling us by name; but it is a God who is dreadfully wounded, slumped down on the porch in blood and contorting pain. This suffering, “someone” says, shows how much he “cares.” Cares for you, for me, for every one of us. So it is, finally, an image of love. The greatest love possible: divine love. And this love is “open hands” and “a door.”

Your open hands, your spread-open palms, pressed toward where His were. That door that “will be opened to you,” opening you to Christ’s crucifying but transcendent love.

— Peggy Rosenthal

“I Stand and Knock” by Daniel Priest

All night he was wind leaning on a door
you wanted to open. The whole world
spilled through the hole he’d torn
in his side. He had nothing to say

that wasn’t your name. In his teeth
his own blood turned brown. You had to
see him naked, name those animal scars
in their torchlight contortions. Only then.

Someone saw him through the window
slumped on the porch the prints of his hands
all over everything. They said how much
he must care so you rested then

against the other side, pressed your palms
where his might be, swore you heard your name
under that rough wind. Love is open hands
you kept saying. Love is a door.

This poem first appeared in Image 97.

The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Written by: Daniel Priest

"I Stand and Knock" originally appeared in Image 97.

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