Irrigation

we steal water when we make rain, the way

everything I have is from somewhere else,

from someone else, what I am

 

the riverbed looks scalded

but the wound is full thickness

and elsewhere

 

in a variegated field or on a lawn

of grass named for a saint

or a saint once removed

 

we can’t walk on it

eventually it comes up

dry and tired

 

the way we wear everything out

especially each other

listening with heavy feet

 

unlike the river which never tires

whose pocket we pick

down to the lint

 


Martha Serpas

Martha Serpas has published three collections of poetry, Côte Blanche, The Dirty Side of the Storm, and, most recently, The Diener. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Nation, Image, and Southwest Review. A native of Southern Louisiana’s wetlands, she co-produced Veins in the Gulf, a documentary about coastal erosion. She teaches at the University of Houston and serves as a hospital trauma chaplain. More information about her work can be found at marthaserpas.com.

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©Martha Serpas, “Irrigation,” first appeared in Bellevue Literary Review, V14N2, Fall 2014.  Reprinted with permission of the author.

This material is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0  License.

Recommended Citation: Serpas, Martha. (2015) “Irrigation,” The Yale ISM Review: Vol. 2: No. 1, Article 9. Available at:  https://ismreview.yale.edu

View article as a PDF: Irrigation

Ten Fathom Ledge

All that’s visible

is a ribbon of coral,

briny phrasals above a ledge nearly

 

erased by silt and scalloped water,

ghostly and opaque.

 

Beyond is the dead outer shelf,

its tragic red surge of blossoms

bruising the abyss.

 

What to do?

The others have entered

 

the freighter’s wrenched hull,

their light beams sliding like opera gloves

along the awkward deck and sides.

 

I am left playing with goatfish

on Ten Fathom Ledge, like the forbidden

step off your grandmother’s porch,

the first plank as far as you will go

toward the long bright yard, the pitch

of children rippling from a swing.

 

Why not be content with spadefish and nurse sharks,

the confusion of gravity, the wise bezel

that grasps all our time as bottom time?

A gentle surge toward the wreck, lifts, pauses,

then sloshes me right back on the ledge.

 

≈≈

 

Everything lasts forever: the jetties,

sand, sky, pipers, even the pebbles

of sea glass, cobalt, old as lace

doilies. Others can walk down the beach

toward thin shacks and driftwood shelters,

toward haze and mist. I’ll sit on an unclaimed

log, which has drifted here, for now,

and watch a midday sun crystal

on the waves. Don’t be fooled:

 

The Gulf is not a polished cruiser

or a V-hull on the dock.

 

The Gulf

is not a flatiron idling

between sets of bowing waves.

 

Its striated water lifts itself inch by inch

and closes in on the shore.

It is alive,

playing its chords, humming its undertow.

 

You will be welcomed on your back

as it slides its dress collar over

your thighs, runs its breezes and tensions

all over you. It will welcome your face floating down,

closed eyes or open, breathing

August’s strong sweat.

It will welcome you a thousand times.

It wants you to practice sinking

and feel how much you belong.

 

Others can walk the shore’s silver brocade

and pace back again.

 

Don’t be fooled: The sky is complicit.

There’s no discerning compass here.

The wings and water pull equally

toward the beauty of transparence—

cirri, sea fans, music, love

 

and the pans and stirrups of pelicans

which weigh that anything is possible,

but that nothing has to be.

 


Martha Serpas

Martha Serpas has published three collections of poetry, Côte Blanche, The Dirty Side of the Storm, and, most recently, The Diener. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Nation, Image, and Southwest Review. A native of Southern Louisiana’s wetlands, she co-produced Veins in the Gulf, a documentary about coastal erosion. She teaches at the University of Houston and serves as a hospital trauma chaplain. More information about her work can be found at marthaserpas.com.

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Martha Serpas, “Ten Fathom Ledge” from The Diener (Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 2015). Reprinted with kind permission of LSU Press.

This material is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0  License.

Recommended Citation: Serpas, Martha. (2015) “Ten Fathom Ledge,” The Yale ISM Review: Vol. 2: No. 1, Article 8. Available at: https://ismreview.yale.edu

View article as a PDF: Ten Fathom Ledge

On the Cover

Perugino, pietro (1448-1523). The Baptism of Christ, c. 1498. Oil on olive wood, 30 x 23.3 cm. Kunsthistorisches Museum. Photo Credit: Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY

Pietro Perugino (1448–1523). The Baptism of Christ, c. 1498. Oil on olive wood, 30 x 23.3 cm. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. Photo Credit: Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY


Cover design: Maura Gianakos, Yale Printing & Publishing Services

Hope Travels Below Sea Level

This text originally appeared in an interactive multimedia CD-ROM entitled Ocean Psalms: Meditations, Stories, Prayers, Songs and Blessings from the Sea, co-produced by Teresa Berger and Lorna Collingridge (Durham, NC: MysticWaters Media, 2008); reproduced by kind permission of the authors.


 

I have learned

 in the deep South

 that hope travels underground.

 

 Gullah Islands

 reach into an ocean

 that carried slave trading ships

 and is forever scarred

 by the memory of the agony

 below deck.

 

 Did hope travel westwards at all in the Middle Passage?

 And where,

 if not below deck?

 Underground,

 the slaves seeking freedom would later say.

 

 But

 where is underground

 in the ocean

 traversed by slave ships

 if not in the deepest depths of the tortured human soul?

 

 Hope does travel underground,

 and below deck,

 and deeper than the deepest sea,

 yet its whispered promise is always the same:

 

 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.”

 


Teresa Berger

Teresa Berger is Professor of Liturgical Studies and Thomas E. Golden Jr. Professor of Catholic Theology at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music and Yale Divinity School.  Her scholarly interests lie at the intersection of theological and liturgical studies with gender theory. Her publications include Gender Differences and the Making of Liturgical History; Dissident Daughters: Feminist Liturgies in Global Context; and Fragments of Real Presence: Liturgical Traditions in the Hands of Women.  She has also written on the hymns of Charles Wesley and on the nineteenth-century Anglo-Catholic revival. She was editor of Liturgy in Migration: From the Upper Room to Cyberspace, essays from the 2011 ISM Liturgy Conference.

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This material is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0  License.

Recommended Citation: Berger, Teresa. (2015) “Hope Travels Below Sea Level,” The Yale ISM Review: Vol. 2: No. 1, Article 6. Available at: https://ismreview.yale.edu

View article as a PDF: Hope Travels Below Sea Level

 

 

A Blessing Over Waters

This text originally appeared in an interactive multimedia CD-ROM entitled Ocean Psalms: Meditations, Stories, Prayers, Songs and Blessings from the Sea, co-produced by Teresa Berger and Lorna Collingridge (Durham, NC: MysticWaters Media, 2008).Text by Teresa Berger, melody adapted from the chant of the Exsultet by Lorna Collingridge; reproduced by kind permission of the authors.

Melody: A Blessing Over Waters


 

Living God,

we call you mother

because you are the source of all life.

At the very dawn of creation

you birthed the cosmos

and took it in your arms to nurture it.

Ever since then

mothers have known your creative energy

in the breaking of their waters

when giving birth.

 

Your Spirit breathed gently on the waters of creation

making them wellsprings of life.

You taught the waves

their words of wisdom

and the ocean depths

their silent song of praise.

 

The torrential waters of the great flood

became a sign of the waters of redemption

as they brought an end to worlds of violence

and a new beginning of life.

In the rainbow

you gave water

the color of hope.

 

You showed Hagar a well in the desert

to revive her dying child.

You inspired Hebrew midwives

to save the children of Israel

thus preparing a people

to walk through the waters of the Red Sea.

You moved a Levite woman

to hide her son in a basket

and entrust him to a river.

Miriam sang your praises

as you freed her people from slavery

and drowned Pharaoh’s chariots

in the waters of the sea.

 

Like a mother

you carried your people

through the desert,

providing water in the wilderness.

 

No wonder your prophets spoke of your grace

as morning dew

as overflowing torrent

as mother’s milk.

 

When the time had come,

your Word took human form

in the water of Mary’s womb.

Blessed, indeed, the fruit of this womb:

Jesus.

He was baptized in the waters of the Jordan.

At a well, he spoke truth to an outcast woman

and promised her living waters.

He calmed the storm over the Sea of Galilee

and the wind and waves recognized his voice.

 

Dying on a cross,

water and blood flowed from his side.

In them, you birthed your church.

 

Living God

you have made water a symbol of your life

ever since the dawn of creation.

Let your Spirit breathe gently on these waters

that they may become for us the waters of life,

the color of hope,

the sound of rain in the desert.

May you birth us

ever anew

in water and the Spirit

from now on until the very end of time

when the river of the water of life

will be all in all.

 


 

Teresa BergerTeresa Berger is Professor of Liturgical Studies and Thomas E. Golden Jr. Professor of Catholic Theology at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music and Yale Divinity School.  Her scholarly interests lie at the intersection of theological and liturgical studies with gender theory. Her publications include Gender Differences and the Making of Liturgical History; Dissident Daughters: Feminist Liturgies in Global Context; and Fragments of Real Presence: Liturgical Traditions in the Hands of Women.  She has also written on the hymns of Charles Wesley and on the nineteenth-century Anglo-Catholic revival. She was editor of Liturgy in Migration: From the Upper Room to Cyberspace, essays from the 2011 ISM Liturgy Conference.

____

This material is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0  License.

Recommended Citation: Berger, Teresa. (2015) “A Blessing Over Waters,” The Yale ISM Review: Vol. 2: No. 1, Article 7. Available at: https://ismreview.yale.edu

View article as a PDF: A Blessing Over Waters

Walking on Water-Azurite

from the Walking on Water series 

Walking on Water-Azurite
Walking on WaterAzurite, 2012. Mineral Pigments on polished gesso, 82 x 137 in.

Artist’s note: The Walking on Water images were painted in the new Princeton studio. They were meant as an elegy to victims of the 3/11 tsunami. As I attempted to finish the last of the three, Walking on Water – Banquo’s Dream, Superstorm Sandy hit, wiping out some fifty works of mine at Dillon Gallery. Thus, the process of painting has now become, literally, a way to “walk on water.”


Makoto Fujimura by Bjorn Amundsen (3)

Makoto Fujimura, recently appointed Director of Fuller’s Brehm Center, is an artist, writer, and speaker. He was a Presidential appointee to the National Council on the Arts from 2003 to 2009. Fujimura’s work is exhibited at galleries around the world, including Dillon Gallery in New York, Sato Museum in Tokyo, The Contemporary Museum of Tokyo, Tokyo National University of Fine Arts Museum, Bentley Gallery in Arizona, Gallery Exit and Oxford House at Taikoo Place in Hong Kong, and Vienna’s Belvedere Museum. In celebration of the 400th Anniversary of the King James Bible, Crossway Publishing commissioned and published The Four Holy Gospels, featuring Fujimura’s illuminations of the sacred texts. His most recent book, Culture Care, was published in 2014. Fujimura is a recipient of four Doctor of Arts Honorary Degrees and was awarded the American Academy of Religion’s 2014 Religion and the Arts Award.