Monday, December 3, 2012

Tania Runyan

Tania Runyan is an Illinois poet who has published one chapbook (which won Book of the Year by the Conference on Christianity and Literature in 2007) and two full-length collections. Her most recent book, A Thousand Vessels (2011, WordFarm), is divided into ten sections — one for each of ten different women from the Bible. Its predecessor Simple Weight is also concerned with the Biblical narrative — particularly with the beatitudes. Barbara Crooker said of that collection, "The poems have weight—emotional, spiritual, political—but are anything but simple."

The title of her new collection comes significantly from a poem about Christ’s mother: “Mary at Calvary”:
--------“God creates women for no reason
--------but grief. He can’t cry himself
--------and needs a thousand vessels for his tears...”
The following poem, also comes from the section relating to Mary in A Thousand Vessels.

Mary at the Nativity

The angel said there would be no end
to his kingdom. So for three hundred days
I carried rivers and cedars and mountains.
Stars spilled in my belly when he turned.

Now I can’t stop touching his hands,
the pink pebbles of his knuckles,
the soft wrinkle of flesh
between his forefinger and thumb.
I rub his fingernails as we drift
in and out of sleep. They are small
and smooth, like almond petals.
Forever, I will need nothing but these.

But all night, the visitors crowd
around us. I press his palms to my lips
in silence. They look down in anticipation,
as if they expect him
to spill coins from his hands
or raise a gold scepter
and turn swine into angels.

Isn’t this wonder enough
that yesterday he was inside me,
and now he nuzzles next to my heart?
That he wraps his hand around
my finger and holds on?

This is the first Kingdom Poets post about Tania Runyan: second post, third post.

Posted with permission of the poet.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the award-winning author of the poetry collections Poiema (Wipf & Stock) and So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed (Rubicon Press). They are both available at: