Flickr photo by chinnian

For the Love of Valentine’s Day and Poetry

By Ernesto Tinajero

Valentine’s Day is around the corner, which always brings up a mystery for me. I express myself in verse like St Paul, King David and most of the writers of the Bible did. Yet, when I tell people I write poems they roll their eyes. This is before I even share a poem, even though the most popular book of the Bible is Psalms, which is a collection of poems. When I do share a poem, it is greeted with wonder and talk of how good it is, as if good poetry is a mystery. Most of the writers of the Bible choose verse as their medium of writing, but  Christian bookstores are more self-help than either theology or poetry. It as if we evangelicals have forgotten to let our soul sing.

I am about to publish a book of poems for Valentine’s Day. The question that always arises at this time is why has the church shunned or looked down on poets, while praising self-help. The cultural norm of poets being unfulfilled romantics has certainly been absorbed by the American church at large. It has not always been the case. Where have the poets gone? It as if when the cross was banished from the church in the early 1970s, it lead to us forgetting to meditate on the passion of Jesus. Without the passion of Christ, we forgot the passion of life, hence the ideas of the useless of poetry, even if that was how David became instilled into God’s own heart. I wonder if we regain the cross of Christ, if our souls will begin again to sing a new song? Passion needs pondering.

Below is a poem I wrote to my wife and it is going to be in the book I am about to publish. I wrote it at a time when my son’s tumor condition helped me to understand the uselessness of self-help and the power of Jesus’ passion. Read it out loud to hear the rhythms and then leave a comment about how it brings out passion.

The Gift of My Wife

Is it best to look at our baby’s future
through a telescope, microscope,
or observation? He plays
with his toy top. “I am that I am”
God says to a fugitive in the desert.
God answered Moses’ question, but will God

answer our worry? Time moves
like a toddler’s Crawl, moving faster
with practice. Surgery bonded
his development, and yet, again,
he starts to unfold
under his mother’s care.

Love boils under pressure.
Our little Tito’s eye
heals slowly. Lace with mother’s
heart searches his cornea
for signs of drying. Laughing
at his latest discovery, Tito smiles
at strangers in restaurants, learns
words and goes down an unknown
trail .Will he regain sight?

Life, busy, goes from firing
an uncaring doctor, to finding
ways to keep moisture
in the problem eye, to fighting
his rubbing of his eye.
These are the very acts of love. Unaware
Of the ending, the turning of the pages
continues and keeps us
within the middle.

Days come and go. Lace searches
for movement in his damaged
eye. The tumor, though
arrested, still affects Tito’s
future. The doctors pushed and pulled
his third nerve, making it
dormant. Will the eye arise?

The stunned nerve has fixed his eye,
Always looking straight
and seeing nothing. We search
time, always looking and see
the dim presence. His joy of being

held, of being lifted, of just being,
answers the question of love
with a question of “I am.”
Seen and seeing, brings us back.
Lace continues to caress
him, and heal him in the cradle
of her arms.

Then, as if …, I am struck by love
For my son, for my wife, for God,
For joy, for all of the tears shed,
For doctors good and bad, for the time,
Now and in the future, for the times of learning
Words, his, his mother and mine, for all
The moments I will forget and remember

Because of my son’s
health, sickness unto death.
Despite…on top off…beyond …
No, no, and no, and
the Eternal
yes, yes and yes.
The image of love…
remains and expands.

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