If you listen you can hear the strain
On the steel in me.
Once the bow snapped.
God favored me with wood,
With a straight arrow
And with food.
God made it right, good.
But we were empty then,
Humbled by our need.
Now your bellies sing, your mouths bleed
With the taste of wild blood.
You are full, and you talk no good.
The steel in me can snap
Like the bow.
If I break, it hurts.
Listen, if you would.
If you would.
These skins for bellows,
The stones to strike fire;
The steps to the mountain
To lead me to ore
As our God in his mercy
Had led us before.
You sit and mock
Like shadows wherever sun strikes.
My steel can stretch, taut …
But … even God’s pure elements are tender.
This ship I will build
And with your help I will build it.
Like Israel which hardened its heart against Moses
You are swift to complain and slow to remember.
Give room to this bow, whose arrows quiver.
If my steel shakes you, the heavens tremble.
Bend your hands to these tools,
Moist this ore, carve these timbers!
Move your hands, or with power …
The almighty anger …
The bow in me snaps, and I fall on his altar.
God, mend your bow.
Let my brothers come.
Not to me. To you.
Straight as arrows to mark your word.

[illustration] Painting by Mike Nelson