Elaine Christensen

1948 -

A Quote by Elaine Christensen on children, daughters, day, garden, god, kindness, parenthood, understanding, water, wedding, and world

Covenant Water runs from a spout below my open window. A February sun thaws what's left of Thursday's storm. It is a day of whites and blues: a squint-eyed day, a hold-still, breathe-deep day. When God made the world and put Adam and Eve in the garden of greens and orchids and grapes, part of Him longed for the day when they would discover winter. When it snows in the South, parents wake their children, even at three in the morning to see flakes like goose feathers, to feel them tingling on their eyelids. Children can't begin to understand what is given them, what it costs, that the cost doesn't matter. Dear God, don't let me take this day for granted. White edges every fence. Each roof is an untouched field. The honey locust offers clumps of snow like winter fruit left unpicked in its limbs. The ponderosa spreads voluminous petticoats out to dry. Light refracts, splinters across the snow like sequins scattered and hand-sewn on my daughter's wedding veil. It is a day for making vows, the kind you tell no one, the kind you keep.

Elaine Christensen (1948 -)

Source: Encore, 1998

Contributed by: Zaady

A Quote by Elaine Christensen on endings, hope, peace, sons, sorrow, time, and unhappiness

Sorrow Is A Box Of Flowers What it's all about is sorrow I've become convinced of that sorrow fences each field sorrow clings to stone walls sorrow hedges the road on both sides when her son died sorrow coated her spoon it curled in her bed it hung in her closet like a coat she put on and wore sometimes proudly sometimes bent over I watched her put up the fence the stone walls we've all done it the hedge on either side of the road cowering behind it wishing for a different ending: sorrow is a box of flowers being delivered over and over your name on the card each time the bell rings you go to the door take the box in your arms hoping this time praying this time there'll be a different name but it's always yours in unhappy endings there is finally peace I've become convinced of that sorrow is the schoolmaster the sober drink the great equalizer everyone has to swallow it there's no getting down from the table

Elaine Christensen (1948 -)

Source: I have learned five things, 1995 winner, Nat’l Fed’n StatePoetry Societies’ manuscript comp

Contributed by: Zaady

A Quote by Elaine Christensen on death, faith, fear, quiet, and time

The Daffodil It is the quiet, the suffocating quiet that is so hard. I know the death you fear, the blackness the narrow bed the waiting for spring. It is a long time to have faith for you who buried me and for me with no voice to make sure I am remembered. Will you fall to your knees in April grass when you hear the sound of my yellow trumpet?

Elaine Christensen (1948 -)

Source: unpublished

Contributed by: Zaady

A Quote by Elaine Christensen on children, god, love, pain, and tears

STILLBORN Still, with milk my breasts Still, with love my arms Still, at night I rock Still, so still my tears Still, with pain my womb Still, with God my child

Elaine Christensen (1948 -)

Source: At the Edges, published by the Utah State Poetry Society, 1990

Contributed by: Zaady

A Quote by Elaine Christensen on darkness, death, earth, god, lies, and preparation

DRY LAND All around me your death like some great ocean rages, wave after crashing wave- till the cliffs of my arms give way to defenseless shore and I lie blackened against the sand. My hair streams like weeds about my head and pulls me, as surely as the moon pulls her tides, to the depths of earth. In darkness, I am swallowed. In darkness, I remember Jonah. . . that God prepared for him a black fish and after three days and three nights dear God, dry land appeared.

Elaine Christensen (1948 -)

Source: At the Edges, published by the Utah State Poetry Society, 1990

Contributed by: Zaady

A Quote by Elaine Christensen on daughters, day, god, laughter, learning, love, past, religion, sons, teachers, teaching, and water

Whenever It Rains Fräulein Dr. Sauter, our religion teacher, wore hand-knit underwear. Couldn't buy any--she was as big as Noah's Ark. Whenever it rains, I think of her. She loved that story. Wanted to sail away, 'cupped in God's hands.' She'd clasp hers, rocking them back and forth like a boat in steep waves. We dropped our pencil boxes to peek up her skirt, past wide-spread knees, to view thighs encased in 'knit-one, purl-one'. We'd learned to knit socks that year. It took four needles. She must have needed eight, no, sixteen. While teaching, she sat on two chairs, one for each haunch. One day, a chair broke. Dr. Sauter hit the floor like a hippopotamus heading for water. No way could she get up. With side-gripping laughter, we had to fetch the Herr Direktor to help us hoist her to her feet. We pictured old Noah with all his sons and daughters pushing, pulling some big mammoth aboard the ark. The next day she told us why she loved that story. Noah, she said, ignored the laughter.

Elaine Christensen (1948 -)

Source: I have learned five things, 1995 winner, Nat’l Fed’n StatePoetry Societies’ manuscript comp

Contributed by: Zaady

A Quote by Elaine Christensen on automobiles, balance, beginning, buddhism, children, day, life, miracles, newspapers, schools, understanding, and path

A Hair's Breadth In Burma there is a huge rock that balances on the edge of a cliff, kept from toppling, they say, by one hair plucked from Buddha's beard. Monks rise early to climb the steep, jagged path to view this miracle as the sun begins its day shining on the thin strand so delicately placed. I understand this pilgrimage, to witness life spared one more day. I saw a picture once in the newspaper of a car stalled at the foot of a steep embankment. A school bus had slid off the highway down the embankment and was kept from rolling, from killing the children, by the stalled car some driver had earlier cursed and kicked, stomping off through the snow, his day ruined. I cut out that picture, put it in a folder labeled "miracles," where I will put this one of the rock in Burma. And when my children complain about gathering for prayers before bed, I will take one out now and then to show them how precariously life is balanced.

Elaine Christensen (1948 -)

Source: unpublished

Contributed by: Zaady

A Quote by Elaine Christensen on birds, body, dance, god, and laughter

Inside me there is a dancer. Inside this middle-aged body of a housewife there is a dancer. Don't laugh. I have danced with sunflowers in sandy September fields with fruit trees each spring, blossoms in my hair at the lake's edge in winter where tall grass and thin reeds wobble on pointed toes in the wind and in summer with the sea where anyone can find the dancer inside. Don't laugh. Barefoot, arms outstretched, palms raised to the sky, to the birds, to the clouds, to God, who choreographed it all, I danced. I knew every step and the waves stood up and bowed.

Elaine Christensen (1948 -)

Source: I have learned five things, 1995 winner, Nat’l Fed’n StatePoetry Societies’ manuscript comp

Contributed by: Zaady

A Quote by Elaine Christensen on birds, dawn, and emptiness

LEAVE-TAKING Leave-taking is not birds gathered for one last hymn to summer on thin branches of an empty tree, nor grass, sodden and bent beneath winter's first rain-heavy snow. Leave-taking is not the sun reluctant to smile in a lowering sky, nor the moon taking leave of the stars at dawn one by one. Leave-taking is not the wind suddenly hushed in the rocking cradle of trees, nor the waves stunned and dazed, staring glassy-eyed after the parting storm. Leave-taking is not birds, grass, sun, moon, wind or waves; for these will all come again. Will you?

Elaine Christensen (1948 -)

Source: At the Edges, published by the Utah State Poetry Society, 1990

Contributed by: Zaady

A Quote by Elaine Christensen on choice, darkness, earth, garden, imagination, immortality, life, loneliness, motherhood, posterity, promises, soul, water, wilderness, and women

EDEN We had no childhood, Eve and I. Eden was our mother's breast. Our lullaby was earth's first whimperings as grass and herb bloomed seasonless. I named them blade, by stem, by stalk in loneliness, before the Gods formed woman from my rib of dust. The garden was our womb: to nurture flesh, acknowledge bone, mold our souls in clay. We found our eyes, we heard our mouths, we filled each nostril full of sky, fingers tasted water, hands touched naked skin, bare as the fish in the four rivers, smooth as the serpent, who walked on subtle feet beneath the one tree, given and forbidden. We were pretenders, Eve and I, beneath its leaves of black and white. We played at being Gods below its fruit-filled limbs, imagined our posterity, and in the shade of its dark promise, we dreamed of immortality. Eden was our childhood, lived before the wilderness, before the curse, before Cherubim. And the Gods knew it was a garden like everyman's filled with only one choice.

Elaine Christensen (1948 -)

Source: At the Edges, published by the Utah State Poetry Society, 1990

Contributed by: Zaady

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