Russell Rowland, Asking Oral of Them

Russell Rowland

A Yale seminarian was invited in
to tell us hormonal boys and girls
what our own pastor was too red

of face to say: “Never do anything
you’d be ashamed to do with Jesus
watching you.” Blusher’s morality.

But grace shames the Decalogue:
Ask, and it shall be given.
It shall be opened: Knock.

To the mouse’s-nest brunette,
it was the swallowing of a camel
after straining out a gnat.

To the corn-silk blonde, it was:
Let this pass me by; and yet
not my will be done, but his.

To her of many-colored hair,
it was a simple case of Taste
and see that my lord is good.

Offer bread to all. It’s worth
your while if only one receives.
To find one Lillith, ask ten Eves.

Author’s Comment: The perennial dichotomy between commandment and grace may be sensed in the poem. It is also to some extent about growing up, as we both reject and recycle our upbringing. Lillith was the mythological first wife of Adam, reputed to have a mind of her own.

Bio: New Hampshire poet Russell Rowland is widely published in small journals. A Best of the Net nominee and six-time Pushcart Prize nominee, he is a winner of the Plainsongs Award and Old Red Kimono’s Paris Lake Poetry Contest, and twice winner of Descant’s Baskerville Publishers Poetry Prize. Recent work appears in Rattle, Poem, and California Quarterly. His recent chapbook, “Train of All Cabooses,” is available from Finishing Line Press.


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