Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby


Book Excerpt: Rivers Within Us


I study the burnt side
of a potato chip that depicts
the face of Jesus in its dark edges.
I’ve heard of God spreading the love
in pancakes and quesadillas,
popping a grin among flour and oil,
but a mass-produced junk food snack
doesn’t seem like the best venue for the Savior.
I’d rather see Jesus in the dimpled marble
of the labyrinth in Chartres,
eleven rings of meditation and mirth,
or hear him in the clear soprano
of a boys’ choir, the voices not yet tuned
with the longing of manhood. I want
my Jesus to be pure, with no
hydrogenated oils, caramel color,
or yeast extract.

But this potato chip Jesus seems
genuine. I lay it on the counter
and wait for it to speak wisdom—
like the orange that, when split, confides
the crucifixion, like the pierogi that sold
on eBay for a thousand bucks with a face
that spoke of sacrifice and suffering.
I want authentic doctrine. I want
the cross and the foundation and the rock.
I want everything—
the orange, the pierogi, the bass,
the tenor, the path through the labyrinth
and out again, the bread,
and the anointing oil, the burnt smile,
and the eyes—so hollow, so broken—
I might mistake them
for my own.