“So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone.” – Ezekiel 37:7
No vision, this… I smelled the chalky dust
that rose from dried and crackling bones.
I felt the beating sun as hot upon my frame
as it had been to strip the blood and sinew from
the moldering skeletons and leave
no sign of moisture there, just calcium
to rise and linger, pause and settle,
paste the taste of chalk upon my tongue.
“Can these bones live?” you asked. In this…
experience… how can I know what bones can do?
“Speak to the bones,” you urged, “and promise breath
and flesh and sinew. So they will know God.”
I spoke, and as I spoke, I heard the clattering rattle
of the desiccated bones, the scraping as they found
their place. I smelled the tang of blood and sinew, then
the salt as sweat appeared upon the new-formed skin.
“Speak to the breath,” you urged, “to all four winds,
and let the breath come to these slain, and live.”
I spoke again, and with a sigh the breezes swept
across the flesh-strewn valley. Now a moan
arose as lungs took air once more, and then
a sigh as breath emerged again between
the moistened lips. “These bones,” you said,
“they live to be a sign of hope for Israel.”
And so the… vision? faded. But its hope endures.
I know no valley filled with dusty bones
has gone from silence to a rattling sound,
nor of a sudden taken on the scent of sweat,
or speech emerged from lips new-formed
upon a skull. The slain are slain; the dead are dead.
But we who live may see a better day, and by
the power of God, the dead may rise to life.
A poem/prayer based on Ezekiel 37:1-14, the Revised Common Lectionary First Reading for Year A, Fifth Sunday in Lent.
The image is a synagogue wall painting at Dura Europos (ca. 244) in eastern Syria – Dura Europos synagogue, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25556794.
4 thoughts on “Rattling Vision”
You have made the vision real in words that recreate sense experience, then let the vision fade but kept the hope alive. Thank you.
Thank you, Barb! I’m so taken with Ezekiel’s sensory language. I just followed it a little further.
This is an inspiring post … don’t know if it will ever be a poem but it speaks directly to my partner’s new rheumatoid arthritis and my longstanding COPD. We could really use some “speaking.”
I see that it did become a poem! I’m honored, Maren. It’s such a marvelous poem.