RUTH 1:16

Olivia Bustion



                                              Picture two women

                                                                    sitting on a foot-bridge

                       over a frozen pond

                 in a South Hadley wood

                                  in January.
                                                        Olivia rests

                                                           her back on the truss,


                                                    her knees to her chest, puffs

                                                      a Swisher Sweet,











"What does it mean, to believe? It seems to me that the New Testament writers see faith as a black-and-white thing: you're either in the light or not. What about a shadowy land-of-inquiry in between? I want a name for people who can't really identify as skeptics (because the light attracts them) or disciples (because they can't stand still in it). The Gospels call me to an unfollowable world."


    & Chloe,

                                                                                watching worms of ice eat

                                           through leaves & crawl

                                                                through vines knit

                                  to the bridge, says:








"In the New Testament the light is God. Standing in the light doesn't come through catechism and conviction; it takes struggle and practice. John says we experience the light by walking in it as Christ did. Pascal says that if you practice the faith you will find it to be true."


                                                 sword-fern & rootlet, beard
                                                                        grass & bloodroot.


"So faith isn't about epistemic confidence. It's a response to a story and to the communities that try to fit their lives to that story."










                                                                                              Vaulted pine-trees
                                                                   with ice-worms.

"When I have doubts, I take comfort in the fact that my confession is the work of the Holy Spirit. I can't reveal the nature of Christ to myself; I can only inquire, reason, listen, and pray." 











                                                      Chloe paces the bridge's

                                     length & Olivia

                                                                                   ashes her Swisher

                                                 Sweet; Chloe


                     snow off her black 


                                                                    & Olivia runs up behind

                                                                           her & kisses

                                                                  her & brushes

                                                                        snow out of her hair.









"Tell me I could still do this in the unfollowable world."
"You could."
"And this?"











          in cruciform
     leaves, ice-worms harrow
                                                     the juniper trees, ice-worms 
                                                                                                                            the bole
                                                                                            of an unfollowable


Pentimenti: Susan Bergman's Anonymity: The Secret Life of an American Family, Frank Bidart's "The Second Hour of the Night," and Stanley Hauerwas's Hannah's Child.