Dark and bare, exposed
by winter’s probing and immodest gusts
you stand with arms raised heavenward.
Unflustered and unblushing,
sharing none of Eve’s false modesty,
you pose in nature’s state
unclothed for all to see.

And on your folded skin is mapped
the journey of your life,
knots and forks and half-hearted prunings
attest to blows and storms long past.
Nests you hold that once raised families
and now are crumbling and empty.
Letters carved by young lovers
offer faded declaration
to a love grown grey and deep.
Wandering pockmarks trace
a woodpecker’s eager hunt.
And at your feet, loam and decay
tell the tale of yearly feasts that you provide
without cost or censure.

Your once young flesh, now mossy grey,
bears the scars of wind and drought,
and marks the passing feet of insect legions.
And even in your death long years hence
your skeleton will nurture life and shelter hope.

So why should you feel shyness
to lay bare to all who pass your way
the beauty and the bounty of your form,
that God and living life have sculpted,
naked and unashamed.


Scott Ellington is an ordained minister and, together with his family, he served for fourteen years as a missionary educator in Mexico, England, and Germany. He is currently a professor of Christian Ministry at Emmanuel College in Franklin Springs, Georgia. When not teaching, Scott enjoys travel, acting, and writing poetry. He has a particular interest in prayer in the Bible, and his first book is entitled Risking Truth: Reshaping the World Through Prayers of Lament. Most recently he has contributed the chapter on ‘Lamentations’ in The Oxford Handbook of the Writings of the Hebrew Bible.
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