Hollyhock -- By: Jean Janzen

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 18:1 (Winter 2004)
Article: Hollyhock
Author: Jean Janzen


Jean Janzen

Those summer days we pinched off
the blooms to make ballerinas,
bud for the head, sticky stamen

under the silky skirts, and then
the whirling. Beauty and desire
in their bright confusions.

In Sunday school we didn’t sing
about Rahab or Bathsheba, but later
found them in Matthew’s genealogy,

girls in secret, our fingers tracing
the lineage. That long red rope
reaching into the trembling Mary,

those strands of love and terror
spreading inside her like fire.
We couldn’t speak their names.

But today, I will sing them all.
And I will dance every syllable
of Zerubbabel, Hezekiah and Uriah.

and long vowels of Boaz,
and the frantic twist of Tamar.
The New Testament song and dance—

mud flying, ribbons swirling
among the weeping and the laughter,
my heels and toes marking

the consonants, my voice
cracking on the high notes
where the light comes in.

Copyright 2002 Christian Century. Reprinted with permission from the July 3-10, 2003, issue of the Christian Century.

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