Selected Photography, Art, Poetry: Worlds without Number

by William Dunford

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    The world’s most powerful telescopes don’t orbit the earth. They are the imagination that the Lord has given to each of us. Some are focused on one area of His creation, some on another. How far and how clearly we see depends on our patience and effort in learning to use the instrument and in fine-tuning the focus.

    In the pages that follow, you are invited to peer at numerous worlds through the imaginations of others. There’s no need to squint. Keep both eyes open in wonder.

    Stargazing

    Of course I’ll try
    Not to love you
    It will be like
    Watching the night sky
    And pretending
    Not to see the
    Shooting stars flash
    Through the corner
    Of my
    Eye

    Vision

    Autumn moon
    shadows
    cast pleasant
    half-light
    into night—
    evidence
    of powers
    I doubt
    I smile
    at me
    realizing
    I believe
    more than
    I think I do
    or
    can currently
    let out

    [photo] Photo by Barbara Meyers

    [illustration] Art by Greg Newbold

    The Homefront

    (For the families of the Bolivian missionaries)
    Martyrdom came earlier than morning frost
    Stinging cold
    On the faces of the gathered children
    Who wondered why
    The porchlight sliced the predawn hush
    It was still dark and the stake president
    Warmed his hands in his breath
    And shuffled a little
    From side to side
    Daybreak brought heat
    Thawed their numb fingers
    To let pain flow like innocent blood
    Then with afternoon came warmth
    Drawing long shadows on the old hills
    Where throwing stones are cut and
    Where still the prophets are born

    Rain at Breakfast

    There is no sun this morning
    only rain on my roof
    like cat’s claws clicking
    on my kitchen floor

    Aprils

    He came, green
    from April fields, smiling
    at the complaints of new ewes.
    He loved lambing. To lose
    even one—
    He breathed in
    sharp fusion of spirit and element
    making blood and bone the instrument
    of Intelligence. Immanuel,
    born while stars shouted through the veil
    Hosannas over April fields.
    He lived mild,
    seeing seeds and sparrows fall,
    learning lambs and fish and all
    the allegory of a vineyard.
    He saw the swelling grapes,
    raw bottles, and the winepress
    brimming crimson. He read the prophecies—
    and every Passover feast
    ate bitter herbs
    and flawless lamb.
    He cried out,
    the closed veil wrenching the shout
    no scourging could tear from him. He
    bled alone between writhing olive trees,
    distilling drop by drop the poison
    from each contaminated man,
    aching the consummate
    submission of atonement.
    He rose, lifting
    white hands to heal, restoring
    perfect unity to bodies and souls,
    sons and fathers. Angels
    herald the refreshing times:
    a flood of light.
    He comes in clouds, white
    to victory and wedding
    coronation: the King
    of peace.

    [illustration] Art by Amy Greaves

    [photo] Photo by Angie Teames

    [photo] Photo by Jess Morgan

    Lilacs

    Sweet scented
    memories
    of you
    often
    tickle my thoughts
    like
    sweet purple
    blossoms
    tickle my nose
    at winter’s end
    when I run
    to a bursting bush
    and breathe
    ’til I’m dizzy
    and wonder
    how dull
    the world would be
    without lilacs
    and you

    Eaglet’s Prayer

    My fledgling wings
    and eager heart
    throb
    in my struggles
    to rise
    over ground
    and tree
    and cloud
    I plead
    for surging cloud breaks
    to spread my wings
    and pulse my heart
    with freshness
    to soar
    over ground
    and tree
    and cloud
    and once risen
    to see the wholeness
    of creation
    invisible
    from below

    Twilight Composition

    The muted sunset makes its watercolor
    suggestion
    behind December’s
    ink-blown trees.

    [photo] Photo by Karen Rookhuyzen

    Empty Tombs

    This could have been a day for withering
    The dry grass under our feet
    Still smelling of Halloween blown in the wind
    Long past frozen now in the November chill
    Rows solemn row after row
    Of white crosses
    Lines crooked line after line
    Of bleached markers set up in the settling earth
    And we walk delicately, carefully to avoid the graves
    But we end up jumping over and skipping between
    Dancing
    Alive at the wet stroke of a low-hanging leaf
    Or the sudden dart of a field mouse
    We run through gardens
    climb over olive trees then up past
    Empty tombs

    [photo] Photo by Stuart Grigg

    The First Good-bye

    At the airport we tried to be adults—
    No ransacking the gift shop, or begging
    For ice cream cones. No, we were old
    In our Sunday bests, your new suit hanging
    A little large on your shoulders, my high
    Heels concealing the run in my stocking.
    We had to play grown-up to say good-bye.
    If we’d kept our youth we would be running,
    Hiding behind plants, jeering at tourists,
    Pointing in awe at slow-rising jets.
    No hesitant “Aufwiedersehen” for us;
    Our childlike love could not admit that yet.
    We couldn’t know that life always brings change
    And soon post office wouldn’t be a game.

    [photo] Photo by Ned James

    Excavation

    You listen well, she said.
    I hadn’t known I was listening—
    Only mining her for the gold she was,
    Asking through layers of
    Sedimentary experience, beneath
    All the barriers and buttresses of years,
    To tap the richest vein,
    The deepest treasure of her heart.
    I listen well?
    You live exquisitely, my friend.
    I want to learn
    You.

    [photo] Photo by Rokson P. Lau

    Desert Dream

    The cool red sand beckons my feet
    To shed stiff shoes and burrow
    Into its secret coolness.
    The sun shines from a photograph,
    Where its rays on the steep stone
    Warm my back.
    I long for the flight of the raven.
    Gliding and crying above the juniper.
    Fanning desert heat.
    But I live like the lizard in winter.
    Buried asleep under rocks and snow,
    Waiting for a change.

    Senryu

    In the dawn’s new light
    You are like catching my breath
    After a nightmare

    [illustration] Art by Rachel Turner

    [photo] Photo by Heidi Buchmiller

    [illustration] Art by Derek Blamires

    [photo] Photo by Scott Norman

    Treasures

    this room holds
    all the words I’ve ever said
    they’ve come back to me
    every last one of them
    they’re speaking to me now
    in my voice
    in the voice of condemnation
    slouched in corners
    they judge me harshly
    without understanding
    they lie to me
    are insincere
    they are lazy and stupid
    and loud
    in the voice of doves
    by the window
    they sing softly in harmony
    surge
    when I say I love you
    forgive me
    still barely audible above
    the hissing from the corners
    there are serpents in the corners
    they came from my mouth
    beyond the walls
    the sound of my heart beating

    [illustration] Art by Jared Frei

    For Grandma

    When I ponder
    that between
    your lifetime
    and
    my lifetime
    there could
    so easily
    have been
    a gap—
    I sense
    the Master
    Schedule-Maker
    and praise Him
    for
    the overlap

    [photo] Photo by Jonathon Kland

    [photo] Photo by Eric Swenson

    [illustration] Art by Jared Lynn

    Pray the Rain

    Pray the rain down Seth
    Don’t chase black winged crows
    From the dry fields
    Or brush rats through
    The same empty ditches
    Pray the rain down Seth
    Don’t fight with the grass fires
    And strain at the smoke
    Your stinging tears
    Won’t water the scorched earth
    Pray the rain down Seth
    None of our shovelings or
    Cursings or shouts
    Will turn the course of the clouds
    In the acid blue noon sky
    Pray the rain down Seth
    Melt your rigid knees
    Incline your sweaty brow
    Until your eyes grow moist
    And your faith yields dew

    A Lesson in Ballet

    Today in class, we attempted pirouettes.
    I thought I was working very hard—
    Finding my center, using the correct muscles.
    But the teacher stopped me
    And wisely counseled,
    “There is no grace, no confidence in your dance.
    You will make no progress until you are willing
    To take a risk; learn to fall!
    It’s the only way your body feels
    What it’s doing wrong; then it makes corrections.”
    I faintly smiled and nodded my head.
    Her words were hard, but she was right.
    I stepped out of the studio,
    Made warm and comfortable with work and time,
    Into the colder, harsher life I live.
    Sometimes I think I’m working hard enough—
    Finding my purpose, using all the right skills.
    How soon I forget the lesson:
    I know I must master the pirouette,
    But, right now, I’m so afraid to fall.

    [illustration] Art by Kristen Galloway