Hagar in the Wilderness
Carved Marble. Edmonia Lewis, 1875 My God is the living God, God of the impertinent exile. An outcast who carved me into an outcast carved by sheer and stony will to wander the desert in search of deliverance the way a mother hunts for her wayward child. God of each eye fixed to heaven, God of the fallen water jug, of all the hope a vessel holds before spilling to barren sand. God of flesh hewn from earth and hammered beneath a will immaculate with the power to bear life from the lifeless like a well in a wasteland. I'm made in the image of a God that knows flight but stays me rock still to tell a story ancient as slavery, old as the first time hands clasped together for mercy and parted to find only their own salty blessing of sweat. I have been touched by my God in my creation, I've known her caress of anointing callus across my face. I know the lyric of her pulse across these lips... and yes, I've kissed the fingertips of my dark and mortal God. She has shown me the truth behind each chiseled blow that's carved me into this life, the weight any woman might bear to stretch her mouth toward her one true God, her own beaten, marble song. Edmonia Lewis (1845-1907) was an African/Native American expatriate sculptor who was phenomenally successful in Rome.
About this Poem
"In lieu of much description of this ekphrastic poem or Edmonia Lewis, I'd merely ask that you look upon the actual sculpture, seen in the attached photo." —Tyehimba Jess
Tyehimba Jess is the author of Olio (Wave Books, 2016).
Date Published: 2013-12-26
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/hagar-wilderness