by Josh Nisley

How is it that ye sought me?
—Jesus, Luke 2:49

We sought you sorrowing along the one-
day’s journey back to the Holy City
to find you seated in your Father’s house
astounding doctors of divinity
with questions half-predicted yet not spelled
until you came, eternal question mark
enfleshed, and dropped upon their empty plate.

I could not understand your question then,
and still I wonder at its keen naiveté.
But I have stood beneath the question all
my days: be it unto me according to
Thy Word made flesh and dwelt within my womb.
Thy Word: abiding interrogative,
sword piercing through the joints and marrow of
my soul, the wounded surgeon’s blade of steel
that questions the afflicted part of
my throbbing bleeding torn maternal heart.

Now I know the question is the answer—
the sword the stanch, the ache the touch, the hunt
the hart, the quest the cup. Your absence is
the presence of the hope of nations’ longing.
Abiding void, not here but risen—Hear,
O Israel—my wrestling Lord, my wandering One,
my slaughtered Son—your mother’s searching sorrow.

Josh teaches high school English and college writing while wishing he had more time for leathercrafting.

Photography by Kenneth Godoy

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