Ascension Day

After his suffering he appeared to them during forty days. As they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. Suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, “People of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward the sky?”
         —from Acts 1.1-11

We who loved him gawk,
amazed, at first more taken
by his going than his being gone.
But then arises in his place

an awkward, fearful silence
no one wants to break,
assurance, sealed in stark bewilderment,
that what we know is wrong,

that what we love is gone,
that how we might love well we do not know,
that love enough
we cannot summon.

The One we loved has shifted
once again, has hidden once again
somewhere— in someone? how?—
has disappeared into the very air,

or nearer still, where there is no flame yet,
but only hollow wind. How hard it is
when the Beloved slips into
a mystery we might not love.

This would be our defeat, a simple loss,
standing here, looking into air,
had not these strangers come among us,
(heaven always closer than we think),

shaking us from the sky, confusing us,
making us wonder, questioning within,
if we could trust this vanishing,
if he had really gone at all.

                               —May 9, 2013

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