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Here, there’s no circle, only the spiral, endlessly
turning back on itself. No straight lines, only curves,
coiling, looping. There’s no direct path to the Kingdom
of Heaven; it’s circuitous, echoing the barrow graves
of Newgrange, indecipherable swirls, zigzags, lozenges.
Knots without end, alpha and omega, merged. Lines
that refuse to conform to a pattern, dance to their own rhythm,
lost in a maze. Here, the power’s derived from the wander,
and each turn changes the rules. Turn-in-the-Path. Head-Under-Wing.
Is it possible to capture God in a furrow, snare Him within curvilinear lines?
Metalwork without pattern, interlace gone wild. Yet, no matter
how many twistings and turnings, it returns to the center, the still heart’s core.

Barbara Crooker lives in Fogelsville, Pennsylvania. This poem is from a book-length project of meditations on The Book of Kells.

Image: Detail from the Book of Kells; public domain via Wikimedia Commons



Barbara Crooker

Barbara Crooker

Barbara Crooker's work has appeared in a variety of journals, including The Christian Century, Christianity & Literature, The Christian Science Monitor, America, and Sojourners, among others. It’s been anthologized in places like The Bedford Introduction to Literature (Bedford/St. Martin’s), Imago Dei: Poems from Christianity and Literature (Abilene Christian University Press), Looking for God in All the Right Places (Loyola Press), and Summer: A Spiritual Biography of the Season and Spring: A Spiritual Biography of the Season (SkyLights Paths Publishers). She is the author of nine books of poetry; Some Glad Morning, Pitt Poetry Series (University of Pittsburgh Poetry Press), is the latest.