I've been picking up and putting down Christian Wiman's Survival is a Style for many moons now, but that is not for lack of admiration or enjoyment. Sometimes, a particular poem would hit so hard, I would have to just walk away for awhile. A collection that does that is always worth your time.
Finishing today, I've decided to try something new. Each Sunday, I will post a brief introduction to a collection I've been loving. I'll include one poem that I think really sings. No review. No need. If it's here, you'll know I recommend it. If you have one to recommend (yours or someone else's), send it along. I'll do my best to be here every Sunday.
Survival is a Style ranges between humor and pain, faith and doubt. Which is to say, Survival is a Style is about real life, alternately broken and beautiful. My favorite poem in the collection is the long and achingly lovely "The Parable of Perfect Silence," which begins
Today I woke and believed in nothing.
A grief at once intimate and unfelt,
like the death of a good friend's dog.
It is a portrait of a family and of a man and of the life that comes from brokenness, and it is a poem that would make the whole collection worthwhile even if it wasn't already. Too long to include it all here, please accept "And Someone Wrote it Down" instead.
I read about a bomber whose favorite fruit was dates.
Somewhere, in the annihilating light and the no-time-to-cries,
amid the sudden silica of the market stalls,
the whirlwinded bones and the misted viscera: dates.
A brother said he'd loved them. Said it, I imagine,
with the same lonely catatonia of the saint
when God withdraws, and the withdraws His withdrawal,
until there's nothing but a word for what had been the world.
Someone picked up the pieces. Someone scrubbed the blood.
Someone clung to something human, and someone wrote it down.
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