Yesterday I spoke with my mom on the phone and she opened the mail I had at home. Almost all of it was junk mail, but she said there was something from Commonweal, a small religious/political magazine that I know of.
When I got back from my Ghana trip in 2006, I had written a poem for the friends who went on the trip with me. I submitted it to Commonweal, and then forgot about it. Well, they decided to publish it in their Feb. 13 issue. The timing is interesting. It was on that trip that I knew for sure that I would volunteer abroad some day, and seeing it again now reminds me why I came.
Lamb of God
For Jan, Aly, Ashley, Jennifer, Teddy, Teri, and Paul
The building of an African water system is simple.
You just haul great big bags of cash from Seattle to Savelugu,
then show up on a dusty Wednesday morning to see what you have done.
Memories of those two hours are blurry, inchoate:
prayers for traveling mercies,
their thank you gift, the lamb, inspecting us,
one who stands out from the colorful blur of the others singing, and
though I do not know the words I understand.
You have given us life, they say.
There is nothing for us to say, at all.
So we ride away, helplessly muted,
except for the lamb that is,
who bleats occasionally from the back of the bus,
plaintively asking us not to forget her.
Futilely, as it turns out.
Comforts of home drowning me,
even, or perhaps especially, in church.
And then we pray to the Lamb of God.
Each time I am thrown to the ground,
blinded with the vision of that other lamb.
I gasp for the air of Savelugu,
desperately breathing the only prayer I can,
over and over,
my God, have mercy.