29 June 2017
The Edge of Elfland
Manchester, New Hampshire
I feel rather remiss, but I have something to tell you. Not long ago I had an essay appear in a new literary journal called Convivium. The first issue was titled Root and Twig and looked at issues of inheritance and the bearing of literary fruit. It is edited by fellow Patheos Catholic writer Rebecca Bratten Weiss, and is wonderful. I cannot recommend it enough and least because of my own small contribution to it.
The set up is a combination of poetry, essays, reviews, and short stories. This first issue features poetry from Joanna Penn Cooper, John Farrell, Bruno Cassarà, Meldrum Serbicki, the editor––Dr. Weiss––herself, Elizabeth Beasley Kramp, Michael Martin, and Michael Delp. It also includes a short story by Pellegrine Deuel, reviews by Meghan Berneking and Suzanne M. Lewis, an interview with other fellow Patheos Catholic writer, and Sick Pilgrim co-founder, Jessica Mesman Griffith, and an essay entitled “To Be a Tree” by yours truly.
It was a joy to be included in this interesting literary group, particularly as one who, at times, sees himself as a dry and dusty theologian. To be considered literary or artistic is something of a dream come true. If you will allow, I will give you some examples of the beauty within:
Skulking about outside churches
pointing out irises to my son––See?––
I imagine burrowing down and being in place,
moving soil around, saving annuals
over winter. ….
From “Cultivate Your Garden” by Joanna Penn Cooper.
Why is it hard to imagine,
The passage after death?
You can see the afterlife
In Nature’s grasp. ….
From “Judgment by John Farrell
When I awoke, I was naked and blind, supine on a high hill – see, one said,
and I opened my eyes to smile at the kindly sun – walk, one said,
and I rose and raced above the whispering reeds, to
the mountain’s peak, and there the four winds came with cloaks of green, ….
From “St. Catherine’s Wheel by R. Bratten Weiss
When ripe, he gathered their heads
and buried the new generation
in a field made rich with dead leaves
and a rare elixir stirred from a cow’s horn.
The crows never left them alone.
From “Seed” by Michael Martin
I have always loved trees. Growing up in central Illinois, the once Great Plains, trees were not in abundance. I grew up in a relatively small town, though I never saw it as one for there were towns far smaller not ten minutes away. Still, because it was not a large town, we often had to drive out of it to get certain things. Also, my parents were not huge on flying, so we often drove wherever we went on vacation. What this meant for the child me was long trips in the car with mostly great open spaces to look at. I would see fields of corn and later soy fly past. But there were two different kinds of tree encounters that shaped my imagination. The first was the lone, often gnarled tree. It nearly always stood in the front yard of a house or farm near the road. The gnarled variety would conjure up images of witches and ghosts. The living variety, especially when the farm was farther away, conjured up images of Bilbo’s part tree under which he delivered his farewell speech.
From “To Be a Tree” by David Russell Mosley
This is only a taste of what is contained in this slim, but full, volume. Consider getting an issue here.