I’ve got a pickpocket in my
soul. He—and she—transposes
darkness into light and then
light into darkness. Darkness
and light are the same to her,
and when he climbs the stairs,
he notches each shadow on his
walking stick. When it melts,
she shouts to each and every
passerby: Look! This is what
becomes of treason—and its twin,
patriotism! They were conceived
together; stillborn, they rejoice!

The crowd murmured, and asked
one another what could nothing
possibly mean. When the police
came, they cordoned off the area
and called the EMTs. When they
arrived they offered mouth-to-
mouth to the silence. The silence
refused, and died. The murmuring
increased until it became a roar
that seashells listen to in their
dreams. Chaos followed. When
the police could do no more, they
retreated, grateful to be gone.


Tim Vivian is professor of Religious Studies at California State University Bakersfield and priest-in-charge at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Bakersfield. He has published extensively on early Christian monasticism and has published essays on the work of Wendell Berry, Marilynne Robinson, and Rowan Williams.