The Crystalline Palace of Should

by April Vinding January 11, 2016

I should get out of bed and go to church this morning. This post should have been submitted to Renee (our Blog editor) last week. I should have begun with an image and a non-SVO sentence.

I should be working on my second (or third) book. I should have read Anna Karenina by now. I should be able to make it through one day without snapping at my kids.

I should pray more.

He shouldn’t have had sex with her. She should have tried another treatment. They should stay married. They should stay married.

These are easy to see—these clear, smooth planes. These fixed glass gates. These pop-up bastions. The crystalline palace of “should.”

For some of us it’s a palace of ideals: set on a mountaintop, scraping the clouds, the glittering pinnacle we strive to reach as we thrash through the vale.

For some of us it’s a palace of points: sharp towers of regret (some slicing the horizon over decades), endless punishing reflections, splinters of insufficiency, edges so sharp the cut takes time to bleed.

We can see right through it, right?

We can see this palace is no shelter: that glass has no foundation, can’t be bolted to bedrock.

There’s no place for a hearth in there. You see that, right? There aren’t any shadows—the light does cut right through—but there’s nothing to hold heat. Touching just a single wall sucks the warmth from the body.

There’s no place to hang pictures.

We worship this crystalline palace of should, seek it compulsively, run its mantra, dance the ritual, flagellate before its demands. But is it beautiful? True? This brittle, floating palace marred by fingerprints?

What do they make, the subjects of that kingdom? Milk and honey?

What adorns them? Quiet, gentle spirits?

What ruler sits in such a palace?


April Vinding
April Vinding

Author

April Vinding is the author of Triptych, a spiritual memoir, and teaches writing at Bethel University. She received an MFA from Hamline University and lives with her family in leafy, literary Minnesota. More at www.april-vinding.com.



Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in Ruminate Blog

Rest and Wakefulness
Rest and Wakefulness

by Charnell Peters July 25, 2017

There is strength in new beginnings and strength in coming awake. I’m grateful to join the Ruminate team as blog editor, because I want to learn how to better wake up, and I am excited to do that with you.

Read More

To be Lost in Space
To be Lost in Space

by Gyasi Byng July 20, 2017

Any honest PhD candidate will tell you that our work can be isolating. Even though a great deal of our work involves interaction (teaching, office hours, comparing notes with colleagues, attending lectures, and sometimes venting with other students about how we never have enough time), the majority of our work requires great stretches of time spent alone. 

Read More

Editors Ruminate: On the Poetry of Issue 43, Opening the Door
Editors Ruminate: On the Poetry of Issue 43, Opening the Door

by Kristin George Bagdanov July 14, 2017 1 Comment

I’ve always loved the etymology of kindness, which comes from kin—those to whom we are bound by choice or genealogy. And yet I often find kindness is most difficult to practice with my family—those who have witnessed just how unkind I can be.

Read More