translation by Jennifer Grotz

Psalm 31

The one who wanted to understand too much,
you struck him endlessly to be understood:
for a Lord, you come down hard when you decide to.

He wasn’t defying your intelligence,
he was only stretching his branches up to you:
you weigh so heavy for a God of light.

You didn’t strike his head with lightning
but hollowed the ground beneath his feet instead:
oh, how you tried to disenchant him. Did you win?

I had reserved, however, every height as yours,
I wasn’t addressing the void, but you:
have you won this little game, Lord?

Life seeks to increase, not to diminish;
my living God, haven’t you lost?
Who will laugh once my faith’s exhausted?

But the man too stubborn to go beyond himself—
you cut into him like a bird,
you christen him by peeling back his wound,

pulsing not into arteries but into the veins,
down into the holy ground underneath his ground,
into the desert and the water’s source.

And all the while there’s your laugh where the sky should be:
to make the migrating bird swoop down to the water,
to make the tree grow upside down.

Lord, sole Plaintiff for the human vocation,
have pity for the name my lips form for you
and summon me no more with my name, but with yours.  end