Edited by Gloria Lee
1. How much poison are you willing
to eat for the success of the free
market and global trade? Please
name your preferred poisons.
2. For the sake of goodness, how much
evil are you willing to do?
Fill in the following blanks
with the names of your favorite
evils and acts of hatred.
3. What sacrifices are you prepared
to make for culture and civilization?
Please list the monuments, shrines,
and works of art you would
most willingly destroy.
4. In the name of patriotism and
the flag, how much of our beloved
land are you willing to desecrate?
List in the following spaces
the mountains, rivers, towns, farms
you could most readily do without.
5. State briefly the ideas, ideals, or hopes,
the energy sources, the kinds of security,
for which you would kill a child.
Name, please, the children whom
you would be willing to kill.
by Wendell Berry
From his book Leavings (2010)
This blade of grass is a miracle, because it Is. It’s thingness is a blade of grass, but its Being is divine. All creatures are bathed in the nectar of Divine Existence, which is bliss. However fallen, broken or small, the creature floats in an invisible sea of perfection, the Being of the Creator.
Normally, we see the forms and objects of the world as foreground, their mere Existence as background. But now we are shifting to a new stage of human consciousness: to see creatures as background, and uncreated Existence as foreground.
The earth, the stars, and every blade of grass are bathed in divine beauty. Merely To Be is the miracle. Why not dwell in perpetual astonishment? Why not bow down to every drop of dew and every cricket, not because it is a thing, but because it Is, and Isness is God? If you don’t understand this, I’m sorry. I can’t explain it. Just walk barefoot in the wet grass at dawn, and watch a plum bud blossom.
by Fred LaMotte
Alan Larus Photography
by Dana Gioia
The world does not need words. It articulates itself
in sunlight, leaves, and shadows. The stones on the path
are no less real for lying uncatalogued and uncounted.
The fluent leaves speak only the dialect of pure being.
The kiss is still fully itself though no words were spoken.
And one word transforms it into something less or other—
illicit, chaste, perfunctory, conjugal, covert.
Even calling it a kiss betrays the fluster of hands
glancing the skin or gripping a shoulder, the slow
arching of neck or knee, the silent touching of tongues.
Yet the stones remain less real to those who cannot
name them, or read the mute syllables graven in silica.
To see a red stone is less than seeing it as jasper—
metamorphic quartz, cousin to the flint the Kiowa
carved as arrowheads. To name is to know and remember.
The sunlight needs no praise piercing the rainclouds,
painting the rocks and leaves with light, then dissolving
each lucent droplet back into the clouds that engendered it.
The daylight needs no praise, and so we praise it always—
greater than ourselves and all the airy words we summon.
“Words” by Dana Gioia from Interrogations at Noon. © Graywolf Press.