My Young Friend’s Children

They are a fact, they certainly are there

In the mirror, as you comb your beard and hair.


They’re sleeping, but there’s nothing more alive

In the long night of you at twenty-five;


Within you but still out beyond your reach,

A body that you squint at down a beach,


Or the surf’s loot, some bright, discarded toy.

They wake in you today: two girls, a boy.


They come like bad reception, buzzing, blurred,

But they exist, they’re growing up, assured


Of an easier time than yours, however late.

But in their dark well—you at twenty-eight—


They hide; not theories of another world,

But very breathing selves: three boys, a girl.



An Idle Question

Where is my sin?

The hunters’ daybreak fire

Sinks more retrievably

In icy mire.


A monster’s bones

Melt less exhaustively a few miles down.

The long and awful manuscript

That I sent in to God this year is gone,


Index included,

And those coded illustrations—

All chance, in short,

Of its eventual publication,


Even in heaven.

Lord Christ, praise eternally

To You, who with Your life

Laid down Your memory.



My Brother and Sister and I Ran


To where the lamb was pinioned in barbed wire—

Our feet like sails—the clover like cold fire


Beneath a shuddering sun—the panicked ground

Rearing up while the planet’s rim swept down—


We had to reach the lamb, or he would die,

We really thought—but then he blessed the lie


Our pure excitement told us: he pulled free

And turned his face to him—and her—and me.

Sarah Ruden has published several books, including, most recently, The Face of Water: A Translator on Beauty and Meaning in the Bible and a new translation of Augustine’s Confessions.

Also by this author

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Published in the 2012-11-23 issue: View Contents
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