The Argument


Here’s a poem by Jane Kenyon:

The Argument


On the way to the village store

I drive through a down-draft

from the neighbor’s chimney.

Woodsmoke tumbles from the eaves

backlit by sun, reminding me

of the fire and sulfur of Grandmother’s

vengeful God, the one who disapproves

of jeans and shorts for girls,

dancing, strong waters, and adultery.


A moment later the smoke enters

the car, although the windows are tight,

insinuating that I might, like Judas,

and the foolish virgins, and the rich

young man, have been made for unquenchable

fire. God will need something to burn

if the fire is to be unquenchable.


“All things work together for the good

for those who love God,” she said

to comfort me at Uncle Hazen’s funeral,

where Father held me up to see

the maroon gladiolus that trembled

as we approached the bier, the elaborate

shirred satin, brass fittings, anything,


oh, anything but Uncle’s squelched

and made-up face.

“No! NO! How is it good to be dead?”

I cried afterward, wild-eyed and flushed.

“God’s ways are not our ways,”

she said then out of pity

and the wish to forestall the argument.






little-farmhouse-under-lilac-sky-by-sharon-france(painting:  Little Farmhouse Under a Lilac Sky    by Sharon France)

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