A New Basement Page: Eucharistic Theology #4

Is that then the divine substance
wherein Father and Son are
consubstantial? Where is poor
dear Arius to Try conclusions?
–James Joyce, Ulysses “Proteus”

a week’s vacation at the beach after my first entire summer
away from home.
I should begin, dear saints, with in the summer
of my seventeenth year
and tell you about the moment that
changed my life. That cool Carolina evening breeze coming off
the ocean, tall grass that never needs to be mowed, barefoot in
the condo’s driveway. That was how it was when I defeated my
father in a game of basketball for the first time.
And I tell
you this the way I always tell such things, New York Times Review of
Books
be damned, because some things are meant to be shared
in certain ways
, stories about men who walk away alive from
accidents, stories about unknown men who don’t, and stories about
fathers and the sons who wonder, cliche-like, if getting to 21 points
first is the beginning of wisdom, the beginning of independence,
the beginning of the end. 
Some things in life, in a writer’s life,
in a boy’s life, rebuilt in one’s head in a poem with a short shelf life
are meant, made, edited so they can be shared, marketed even, like how I
remember all this twenty years later, like how I miss all these things, like
how that was the day I didn’t miss the final shot. But there are other things, too.
Thing edited out, like a son’s errant elbow (or two), and If I must now tell the truth, a
well-timed hand over my Dad’s eyes when I went for that final layup,  and the fact
that every time it crosses my mind, twenty years later, I whisper to myself,
Homoousia.

I wrote 4 poems in this series around 2004.  This is the only one worth keeping.  I played around with a couple of theological concepts, including the debate from the first few centuries of the church as to whether the Son was of the same “substance” as the Father.  James Joyce’s Ulysses plays with it in how Stephen Daedelus thinks about his relationship with his father, so of course it made sense to weave in the story of winning a game of 21 with my dad for the first time.  I edited it to make some vague things clearer, and decided to change  the date of the poem’s voice to be contemporary (The phrase “20 years” was “10 years.”).   There’s a good bit of influence from Mark Jarman’s poems in this, too.

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