Song of the South: Watermark

Here is a new poem I wrote near the end of 2016, which I feel connects with our theme of encountering God in the stuff of life.

I hope it helps you experience this connection yourself.

Your progressive redneck preacher,




waves beach

Walls of water fall thick all around us both,

An ocean opening from sky above

Lacking only that briny saline smell

Which clung to me as a little boy

Emerging from the sea

Where I had been bathing with my brother and sisters


I remember that aroma falling about meafghan

Thick as Aunt Elaine’s afghan

Which I later would wrap around me

On cool Morrisville winter nights

Deep in camping mode, daddy said to us

“Don’t worry about no shower.

That sea will get you clean enough”.


That odor’s lingering embrace

Led me to feel unexpected kinship

With the ever-regenerating starfish who,

Together with the horse shoe crabs

Covered in hard spiked armor carapace

Swam in Fort Fisher’s touch pool.


Both before seemed some exotic creatures

cosmic-christSpock might have encountered on his three year tour,

Yet now stood clothed in the pungent fragrance of the same ocean,

That womb from which life first burst forth from mother earth.

Now our once strange touch felt like a connection.

The crab’s hard shell, my soft fingers

Became a little child and its mother intertwining their fingers.


It is just such a gesture

Stretching forth to greet

the pulsing life at the heart of each moment

Which I made again in salt water in my teens.

Clad only in a swimsuit I stepped into the sea

Hoping to answer that wave-walker’s call

mother and foetusWhen he had whispered to old Nicodemus,

“Return to the womb again,

Not now bound to walls and water by placenta

Like some boat afloat off shore

But of mother Spirit”.


Soaking, I expected to rise like some butterfly skyward

Those salty waters my own dark cocoon,

In which I left behind

echoing voices of shrill threats,

thunderous roars of fear.


Instead I waded in, body intertwined with the preacher’s,

Even while he spoke the three-fold name

To find us both flattened by the waves

Laughing rather than grave, both of us off kilter.


As walls of water fall around me now,

Fingers intertwined with one whose hand lies wrinkled not with ocean but with years

Staring into the bright eyes of one whose life now lays forgotten

Like a starfish under open wave

Each of us rocking to the rhythm of the rain,

I realize, how much more prophetic could this be?

In a childhood in which echoed the words “I’ll fly away”,

It seemed our goal was to escape this earth,

while the siren song of life

Echoing through every wind and wave

Calls us to plunge deep beneath,

Underneath cresting blue and white

For only in the water’s warm embrace can we learn to swim.


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