by Mike Mather
“They wait like lowered gates while the mystery rolls past.”
you make visible what’s
invisible? I was that lowered gate. The
mystery was rolling past and I didn’t see it. I’d come to help. My help isn’t needed. My
first I needed to go blind and deaf. So
that I could see and hear.
“The poet can have only one prayer:
not to understand the unacceptable—let me not understand, so that I may not be seduced…let me not hear, so that I may not
poet’s only prayer is a prayer for deafness.” Marina
the way things change, when we begin, to close our ears and eyes to what we
have learned and begin to pay attention to the world as it is in all its
had to put his hand in Jesus’ wound. Me too. I
it at first, but now I do. Did Thomas’s hand touch the various organs? The liver, the kidney, the
stomach, or even the unnecessary appendix?
I was groping, too.
groping too. I often came in contact
with someone who was asking for money or food.
For a long time I would grab a bag or a little bit of money and help
where I could.
went on I began to discover what I had almost missed. The people sitting in front of me were my
parents, my sister, my brothers. They
were people with interesting lives, but as the poet and physician of Paterson,
New Jersey William Carlos Williams said “no one/will believe this/of vast import to the nation.” I sure
missing the mystery of the lives before me.
I hadn’t seen
the entrepreneurs, the cooks, the clothes makers, the musicians, and the
artists. I was slowly awakening, as if
from a sleep.
step - poem, by cake, by clothing - I began to notice what I had not realized
to see the way I was seen. I was a
bank, a credit card, a holder of money and power. I wasn’t considered one who saw dreams and lives, but only needs
to be filled. I had trained people well,
we had trained people well. “Come tell us what’s wrong,”
we cried. “Please.”
we begin to change the way our neighbors would see us? Would people say - “I’m so interested in this thing I’ve been spending my time on - I bet
those people over at the church would love to hear about it!"
“You only learn what you already know.” -
something Phil Amerson said to me 490* times between 1986-1991