Kingdom Come

by Traci Brimhall

That summer the world waited for the execution,
but the prisoner hadn’t healed yet. That summer

I read the gospels backwards waiting for God
to become mortal or at least return to a moment

when creation felt full of promise. That summer
my father held my hand as we crossed the icefields

and looked into a glacier’s deepening blue,
a blue hiding the bodies of mastodons, a blue

that grew lonely watching the world change,
a blue that existed on earth as it did in heaven,

a blue that insisted It is better to be wild
than be good. I felt a new cold and an old temptation

and put my hand in the fissure to feel the remains
of water older than time. Somewhere my father

watched the calving of an iceberg that plunged
into the sea. Somewhere a man muttered

the Lord’s prayer as a doctor tied off his arm
to make his vein stand against his flesh. The news

reported it was almost over. I touched the vanishing
wilderness for the first time, grateful and unsaved.

Traci Brimhall is the author of Our Lady of the Ruins (forthcoming from W.W. Norton), selected by Carolyn Forché for the 2011 Barnard Women Poets Prize, and Rookery (Southern Illinois University Press), winner of the 2009 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award. Her poems have appeared in Kenyon Review, Slate, Virginia Quarterly Review, New England Review, The Missouri Review, and elsewhere. She was the 2008-09 Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing and currently teaches at Western Michigan University, where she is a doctoral associate and King/Chávez/Parks Fellow.

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