The Scandal of Messy Abundance

Picture of twin branches of a paw paw tree, with hand-shaped leaves against a blue sky. Photo by Lynn Greyling (

The Scandal of Messy Abundance
by Suzanne DeWitt Hall

Our cemetery guide explained
that the shining white obelisks
dwindling into the sky
signify our journey toward God.
When doing it right
we disappear at the very tip
when stone ends
and God begins.

He drove on,
slowing our bus disguised as a trolley
to show us
a fruit-heavy paw paw tree
then stopping so we could glean.

A friend from our war-torn church
named Phil
led the way, and I followed.

Phil planted a garden
in our church yard
beneath a spire
which signifies our journey toward God.

It's messy, that garden
with zinnias and bursting tomatoes
dying cucumber vines
and sprawling overgrown greens
which may be weeds
or sweet potatoes
or the most gorgeous fall blooms
waiting to surprise us
if we resist the urge
to tame the tumult.

The murmurers inside don't like it
overgrown and frowzy
too full of life and chaos
too free with invitation
for people who are not them
to come
to pluck
to be filled.

Phil led the way
toward the paw paw steeple
which signifies a tree's journey toward God.
I followed, bending to step beneath
low branches
fruit scattered on the ground
in messy abundance
some overripe and rotting
some eaten by those who were not invited
     those who dared forage on sacred ground
     dared stare up at edifices of stone
     dared taste the sweetness growing there
without permission.

We gathered the fruit which
had not yet grown soft and brown
had not been ravaged
by the hungry teeth of rodents
of vermin
of other.

We gathered until our hands were full
and then boarded the trolley
which wasn't.

We handed the fruit
to whoever wanted a taste
of what grows so close to death
the sweetness side by side
with sorrow
our journey toward God not up
into the sky
but in the fecund earth
and the faces of the people
reaching to taste.


  1. To inhale your poetry is to exhale the experience.

  2. Your poetry makes me feel I am right there experiencing it with you... it is beautiful 🤗


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