Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2015  Vol. 14 No. 2
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Edward Taylor was a frontier minister who wrote a prolific
amount of devotional poetry. The poems are full of deep piety,
learned and quiet, but sometimes an errant wildness runs under
the seams of his words.

It’s said that he wrote poetic meditations to put himself in the
correct spiritual state for his communion with Christ.

I imagine the task swallowing him each time, moving its own
patient way like snowmelt. A poem may hold the unwieldy pieces
of the earth together with a whole heart; a poem may cut that
heart to lace.

His first wife, Elizabeth Fitch, bore eight children; five died in
infancy. Taylor wrote more and more sermons and poems.

Sometimes a conceit makes itself necessary in the safety of the
impasse between word and world. And make my Soule thy holy
Spoole to bee, writes Taylor.

His parishioners were called to worship in the wilderness
with a beat of a drum, amid cold plants, the night coming on,
undelivered ashes of stars.

Flocks take to the sky at dusk. I have wondered if the parishioners
counted the days.

As in: Did they ever travel past the corrective of the afterworld to
stand in the strong spine of rivers? According to Taylor: In Heaven
soaring up, I dropt an Eare On Earth: and oh! sweet Melody!

—(Or weren’t there deranged cries in the wilderness, too?)

Taylor’s trust appears both adamantine and vulnerable, like the
slow plan of the flowering grass or torn, stilled clouds.

Alone in his study, he writes down some dimensions—
I’m but a Flesh and Blood bag, Oh!

Consider the strange and riotous interior, through which so many
nameless things fly.

As weeds continue to idle their tails, leaves molder right on time.
In the rafters of the sky, a pristine star shines with unassailability.
It can’t be taught a thing.

The wilderness: I cannot get around the back of it.  end  

“Certainty” from The Wilderness, 2014 by Sandra Lim, used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company.

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