Via Negativa inglese

for Paul Tillich

Our godless god, our one
no one, our all things small,
our no thing in particular,
our wind in the belfry
bronzed with fading praise,
remember, when my candles
offered up their shadows,
you were no god to me,
and so I turned instead
to the act of turning,
the prayer I offered up
as I looked down, each word
floating through my back.
And in my vigil, I saw
a bug on the carpet,
a sapphire of a creature,
as it scuttled, stopped, chose,
in faith, a new direction.
Spirit is cheap, I thought.
No. Cheaper. It’s free.
Its legs move the clockwork
in the great world machine
of small decisions, spiriting
from here to there, to nowhere
in the narrative scripture.
Back then I feared all
the wrong things and touched
the blue beneath the kettle.
The bigger I got, the tougher
the freedoms, the bluer the flame.
If only the future were
some beneficent tyrant.
How unbearably clear.
Instead I woke my father
to sweep the phantom insects
from my bed. It’s nothing,
he said. And with that,
I pulled my blanket, sealed
the dark in something darker.
Nothing, nothing echoed.
It still does. I have no father,
no earth but this. The path
into sleep is the same
long passage into morning.
I choose therefore I am
chosen, spoken. I speak.
Therefore I leave this ghost,
my voice’s voice, behind.