Nathan Hauke

Fear of Falling

Common grace only assists the faculties of the soul to do that more fully which they do by nature . . . make a man sensible of guilt, and will accuse and condemn him when he has done amiss.
                —Jonathan Edwards


I made lists of offences. I tried, but could not
remember all of them.

Dresses in the bridal shop glint like shell enamel in moonlight.
Window-glass, dark and flat like water. Someone told me that
when I sinned God couldn’t hear me. When my mother left after
my prayers I would lie in my bed thinking about the stale red and
brown bricks of our first house. I could see a wall covered in ivy
and thin, light and dark green flecks of moss. My sins were bricks
and vines coiled delicately across the letters bursting into the first
letter of the first word—

                            In the beginning was a voice that kept changing mouths,
                            speaking between

                            my loved ones. The voice said, “We are going to heaven
                            when we die.

                            Aren’t you afraid that you won’t be with us?”


Someone told us to hate our bodies
and we started running.

Josh and I made up a game called “Headlights” when we delivered
papers; it was about not being seen. We left before daylight and
dodged cars running between the houses on our route. What did
we know about desire, about guilt? —Guilt breathes inside the
house’s green siding.

When cars passed we hid behind trees, or along the side of
someone’s porch. Sometimes we got caught in the open and
dropped onto our stomachs in the frost-wet grass and let the beams
sweep the air over our backs.

                            Grace—what we meant by grace—fell from somewhere
                            over us.

                            It covered us and it kept changing. Flocks of birds
                            changed shape over the neighborhood and

                            we touched ourselves to let grace in. We stopped

                            We cut our hair. We were lost and saved, then not

                            We were translucent, thinner than angels, thinner than
                             angles of glass exposed

                             behind paper snowflakes. We were in the world and in the
                            world and in the world



Standing in the cold dark, a few cattails have broken through snow
near the opposite bank; the sky

is deep, glazed in street lamps along River Rd. Standing on ice,
clearing the rink, looking up toward

the house lights in soaked mittens—The voice says, “Choose your

God’s mercy is greater than God’s wrath, but God’s wrath is
terrible.” Your hands, your hair—your true face—

Not yours. The glazed sky laughs, coughing like a bottomless pit.

Snow banks flicker, shredding the glare of street lamps into
millions of tiny crystals—

                            Guilt was a light switch. Guilt was a stale crust of snow—a
                            page torn

                            from a magazine—Guilt was a mousetrap. Guilt was a
                            mirror. Guilt was moving and it kept moving.

                            Each texture of guilt was an open mouth, what I thought
                            was an open mouth

                            against my mouth. Each texture was washed and shadowed
                            in leaves—

Weeks before Christmas, constellations of trees and bushes
shiver against their frames. A pine across the field was covered in

blue and green light.

                            We knew God was holding us. We could see the golden
                            chain they told us

                            about; in rain and in snow, its links became visible,
                            straining over rows of houses.

© 2005 Electronic Poetry Review