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But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion

                                              —Mark 4:38

He is sleeping now,
as trees ease forth their purple
and scented tips, as clouds
fleece peony/yellowjacket/
red clay in the west
and spring unrolls her tongue—
hot, wet—over the neighborhood.
He sleeps in the helm,
and disease whistles through
the teeth. He sleeps on the sea,
and we scatter in our minds:
TV news—an open throat,
a tunnel down
to damp graves. Guide us,
Anchor. What are the dreams
of God, when waves spill over
us, like noise,
like heat or fear? Does his lip
twitch in the salt? Peony/
yellowjacket/red clay. Shops
shut down. The blaze of earth,
indifference of the cat folded
lazily on a carpeted stem
by the window, sleeping.
What does God know about
suffering? Sleep. All of us standing
in the wind, eyes spread wide across
and beyond the little line of wood,
ship—out, out, past the sleeping
God, past the helm, where he still
is. Help out there?
In the west, where dry earth kicks
the face, imagine a sleeping God
dreaming springtime: the dirt
coughing up its green, the old,
vacant throat reversing its
swallow. The dead come forth,
like purple, like buds.



Kathleen Marsh is the author of the chapbook Rough Hymns (Finishing Line). Her essays and poems have appeared in Tin House online, Salon, Connotation Press, Pretty Owl, Boston Poetry Magazine, Watershed Review, Bird’s Thumb, and elsewhere.




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