Lignum Vitae

What wood is this?
Olive or oak, cedar or pine?
Unsuited for the cabinet makers art.
Unfit for turning, inlay, elegance,
too warped for any honest use,
door frame or ladder or carriers cart.
What wood is this?
Sold cheap to minimise the growers loss.
Too many knots, too twisted,
no good except for firewood or a cross.
What wood is this?
Rough joints, rope lashings
hold it together for the task ahead
and the carpenters hands
that might have shaped it
as they shaped the world
are made to drag it through the streets instead.
What wood is this?
It is the wood of death,
the wood of life.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
9 years 10 months ago
Absolutely lovely and very moving. Bernard has a real gift for very evocative poetry.

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

Democrats, and the Republicans who understand Dreamers are owed protection, could take a lesson from people of color around the country in how to navigate a political process tainted by racism. The lives of 800,000 Dreamers depend on it.
Antonio De Loera-BrustJanuary 22, 2018
“Separating fathers from families has been going on for a while. But now, even mothers are being separated from their children.”
J.D. Long-GarcíaJanuary 22, 2018
“I ask forgiveness,” the pope said on his flight from Lima to Rome. “It’s a hurt [caused] without wishing it.”
Gerard O’ConnellJanuary 22, 2018