Not sure if it’s positive or negative,
A push or a pull—
Or if such forces even exist
Until I speak them
Over the blank depths of formless shadow dreams adrift
Between cistern pupils and the secret Place
Where Story is constructed ex nihilo—
But I have stepped upon a sense that
Some places entice us inward and some expel us away
Some shoot electric moorings across our brains, through to the stem
Or drop anchors into the marrow where new blood is born
So that our whole bodies resonate
When the position is just right—or wrong.

Have you ever felt that?
That a sacred Space—
A burning bush,
A thunder in the desert,
A defiant cypress on a suicidal shale razor,
A black and abalone beach so remote no one would find the body,
A building where you laid in fetal position for days begging for a voice,
A San Francisco guesthouse where parts of your body were discovered,
A loose tobacco singed, espresso smoked, brick-lined road of a post post-industrial town,
An empty tarmac where you lost twenty pounds and your self-respect,
An old job site that damn near defined you, save a twisted leap of fate
—That some holy Places keep you
To this skipping Stone, so the
Poles of future and past—
Ever shifting imperceptibly beneath
The Stone stalking Sun—
Grind not the loose leaf foundations
In the dust of this eclipse.

So when I ask: “What will you leave behind?”
I mean it deathly serious, because
Someone else’s erected stones
Led me to every Place I’ve carved out my own.
And more than these,
The slower, deeper shaping force of Stone itself
That led us round a star,
Enticed us out of water,
Separated us long enough that
This whisper could echo over precious stones.
Perhaps nothing is more terrible
Than watching what your flint—
Formed from the chalky compressed remains of every wound—
Can do to those digging through leaves
For an igneous foundation.

Written after visiting Louisville, KY for the first time in twelve years, when I left seminary to take a temporary position as a pastor. Returning to the places that had deep meanings for me years ago caused me to struggle for words to describe how we use physical places to help make sense of our lives.

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