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Jan Wood

First Prize: 2004 Utmost Christian Poetry Contest

About this Christian Poet:
I write in response to questions that bully my Faith for answers. It is the only way I know to quiet them. This piece grew from the following: “If the avenue to Grace and Peace is forgiveness, isn’t it a wisdom-poor society that negates the need for it?"

I have chased my Faith in God, found it in pieces in my community, in the forests, along the lakes and riverbanks of Northern Saskatchewan. I have observed its validation in my mentors, in parenting and teaching. I have been blessed with family and friends and many fulfilled dreams.

All my life I have been driven by responsibility and an intensity that has kept me sleeping with my clothes on, alert, listening for the signs of earthquakes (of which I know nothing), planning escapes from tidal waves and categorizing my emergency supplies. I have worn my hikers through darkness into many dawns, always prepared…for what? I don’t know. If flesh and blood do not inherit the kingdom probably hiking boots are not welcome either. At fifty plus, I am finally learning to recognize the quiet gift in each moment instead of being mesmerized by its sunburst of possibilities.

Among her many other achievements, Jan Wood was Utmost's International Christian Poet Laureate for 2008 and 2009.

In a Civilized Society an Adulteress Isn’t Stoned

She is taken inside the city gates
to a cavern of the hallowed
and fixed, legally and properly
                    under rubber-glove treatment
                    her fruit-stone is removed
                    —a pip, flesh and juice-slippery
                    that will never be rocked to sleep
                    sterilized-silence decrees
                    its beginning and end
                    will not be engraved.

She is granted three wishes
—‘the’ pill or needle—a widened license to practice
—a crypt for her label and shame
                    rejection makes its gravel bed
                    in a pelvic nest below her heart
                    stone-faced she turns from newborn cry
                    broken by lovers ‘not-interested’
                    —skipped gemstones leave bare fingers
                    and widening ripples on amniotic waters.

She is stonewalled by her sisters
with fruit in the melons of their belly
HIV and genetic warts not being table conversation
                    nor the trade she plies
                    with their bed-rocked spouses
                    mineral deposits pour down her legs
                    in a monthly cycle of no sons
                    her womb a marketplace
                    of peril and liquidation.

                    sorrow leaves through her crevices
                    molten lava erupts and scalds
                    she hardens merciless,
                    an igneous solid
                    her metamorphic meat
                    a cold marble slab

She is the granite weight
of a society
that prides itself on being
civilized; beyond the age of stoning.

Copyright ©2004 by Jan Wood