Seminary, St. Paul Minnesota, 1960

The snow grieves in strands
over blacktop back roads
torn wedding veils, crossing,
braiding on black glass
the way sand drifts in
between desert dunes
flowing in sunset shadow.

He sits before a winter
window in supplication denied,
soul wind blowing snow drifts
and desert dunes, hot and frigid.

The teacher who might have
helped him preached with
towering certainty of his own
soulĻs salvation. His genius
invited the one who had suddenly
lost for himself generations of faith.

Knock and it shall be opened for you.

Can he deny his father,
his cousins, his uncles,
his grandfathersí witnesses
to Christ's safer centuries?
Can he deny his father?

This was nothing he willed.
Doubtís distinguished lineage
boiled up a spring of learning
that found its way through cracks
in the skim of faith and melted
the causeway he once walked so
safely on. He swims in abyssal waters
twenty thousand fathoms deep.

Ask and it shall be given.

He stands before his teacher's
study door. This scholar, he knew,
takes notes on giant sheets
of paper. He must be working.
There are noises in there. With all
with what was left of his courage,
after sitting inside an old cold
log church, the first of its kind,
dark, hand-hewn black walnut,
in this cold February night,
a small light was all there was
as he wrestled with his lies,
he worked his way to this door.
He can help me, he thinks,
I must talk to this man.

He stands before his closed study
door. He hears the typing inside.
Some brilliant article, no doubt,
of Christís compassion, God's grace
as found in St Paul. He knocks.
Someone will help me. He knocks.
The noise of the work stops.
It must be important. Silence.
Yes. Heavenís illimitable destiny
here in this paltry iota of work.
This god behind a locked door.
And silence.

Knock and it shall be opened.
Knock, and for him the door stays
shut! Sand flows, snow moves.
He turns and kicks, heart-vanquished,
through sand drift, wind snow on
black glass. He leaves.

He must put this place behind him.
He might wait a bit longer for
the mud and earthworm spring
and freedom's birdsong legacy.
The Minnesota sky will be a meadow
of endless blue, caressed by cirrus
grasses moving so unlike snow or sand.

He need not knock or ask again.
The world's spring will for him
arrive blue and bright, unselfish,
nothing denied,
nothing ever again denied.


Steven Fortney


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