June 2, 2012

"Søren" by Hannah Olson



I was my father’s Benjamin, his best-loved,
The one he sacrificed.
When he died I made my pilgrimage
To Saeding, Denmark’s poorest hamlet.

I had it in my mind to preach at Saeding Church
The Sunday next. My problem,
How to fill these men in a space so denuded.
My text, the feeding of the multitude.

Here all lies naked and exposed, no place
To hide oneself or hide one’s thoughts.
"Whither can a man flee from thy presence?"
Nowhere on this barren heath.

Outside the kirkyard, I found a tablet, 
Black, inscribed with gilt.
I stood a-stranged like a pawn in check
Where exiles sang remembering Zion.

By the lone larch tree on Jutland Heath
I knew myself as sheer reflection.
By the rivers of Babylon 
I learned to wield the dialectic.