Thomas Explains, Later on the Day of Pentecost, Dan Overgaard

Amy Casey, All the Amenities, 2010, Acrylic on Paper, 10″ X 10″


Thomas Explains, Later on the Day of Pentecost

          for Aklilu


I would have you join me in lauding
the pressure of speech.

                            —Kenneth Burke


Make what you think you want of this:
that while I woke, words split my head
and spun their tenses there. I had
their senses, but could not give voice

to what was prompting me to speak.
You heard what strange things came out?
That Abyssinian whirled about
as if to catch me at my trick,

and in our double take I lost
my stammer with my line of thought—
but could not stop, I felt that caught,
that moved to something, that possessed.

Perhaps you were surprised, as I
was, when I raised my hand to start.
I thought context the better part
of clarity, and rose to try

(in what the Zebedees lampoon
as my Stuffed Greek Pedantic style—
which is to say, mere prose) to spell
out claims that our ecstatic own,

declaiming, meant—but spoke around.
In my opinion, things like grace
and thoughtfulness have mattered less
to some among us who had planned

an end that keep their aims intact.
I won’t belabor that, because
the unplanned end’s revealed surprise
surprised us all. Who could expect

a Christ of such limpidity?
I spent this whole confounding week
unraveling his rhetoric,
reviewing his activity.

I wanted words to frame my doubt
a modest structure for what faith
cohabits with my finite breath:
in short, I wanted sense. Not out.

I was perplexed as anyone
this morning, thinking it a time
for anything—except what came.
Then Peter stood. I sat back down.

Dan Overgaard

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