Sunday, March 15, 2009

Small Wire

Just for my poetry-loving friend, Inland Empire Girl, who shared an Anne Sexton poem on her blog, here is my favorite Anne Sexton poem, "Small Wire." When I teach American Literature, I teach this poem in tandem with Jonathan Edwards' "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" sermon. The 17th century Puritan minister and 20th century poet with a Puritan heritage use much the same imagery, to very different effect. Where Edwards describes sinners as loathesome creatures that God holds by a fragile strand over a raging fire, ready to drop us into that fire at any moment that strikes his fancy, Sexton talks about that thin strand being strong enough to connect us to God, big enough for Him to become intimately part of our lives, part of the very fabric of our being. I much prefer Anne's take. Tell me what you think!

Small Wire

My faith
is a great weight
hung on a small wire,
as doth the spider
hang her baby on a thin web,
as doth the vine,
twiggy and wooden,
hold up grapes
like eyeballs,
as many angels
dance on the head of a pin.

God does not need
too much wire to keep Him there,
just a thin vein,
with blood pushing back and forth in it,
and some love.
As it has been said:
Love and a cough
cannot be concealed.
Even a small cough.
Even a small love.
So if you have only a thin wire,
God does not mind.
He will enter your hands
as easily as ten cents used to
bring forth a Coke.

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