As the Waters Cover the Sea

Collect white crayons. Keep them

in her same old sandwich tin,

the one you took from the children’s ministries supply room

—you’ll always call it Miss Evelyn’s closet

before they replaced her,

but after Father Larry pushed her to resignation.

Steal them from worn class sets; pluck them out

from every Crayola 64 you can get your hands on.


When you cannot sleep, turn the tin out on your bed.

With careful hands, line them up—thick tender ropes

of paper-enveloped wax; not as strong as veins, yet

harder to break than a church—and whisper

to the soiled blunt ones

that you love them just as much

as their snowy mint-new cousins.


Promise them they’ll color in again,

all of them; tell them, every time,

that houses of God always heal.

It doesn’t matter you don’t believe it;

it’s what they need to hear.


You don’t know how many times you’ve had to say it,

But that won’t stop you saying it over again.

White crayons

aren’t useless they’re perfect;

they’re crystal-invisible eyes and angel wings

and cotton clouds and mid-verse singing-sighs.

They’re what you use to color in your God.


When her tin overflows, procure another.

Someday you’ll have chest upon chest of God crayons, but

be still and know

that for today, 128 is enough.

Understand—on no particular one of those nights

as you’re counting out your crayons—

that you have finally made it across the Red Sea.


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