Nellie deVries

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What’s the Name of This Place?

If you go to a place all alone,
and the sun sets on your day
your day of trouble
your day of running away from your tent-home
running away from your brother’s rage
from mother’s conspiring
from father’s disappointment
you take your own deceiving with you
—the grasping at the heel
grasping at what you want,
what you think you need
what you think should be yours.

If you go to that place—that random place—
take a rock and lay your head on it.
Not just any rock
the rock that spills out living water
the rock of refuge, a solid rock.
Rest your head on that rock in that place
and don’t grasp after
but receive        a dream.

Dream of a staircase
starting down where you are
lying there alone
cushioned in your bed of misery

reaching up to heaven.

Dream of angels down by you
bright shining angels in the night
where the sun has set dark on your day.
Angels ascending the staircase and entering the portal to heaven.

Dream of more angels
leaving heaven
and descending the staircase
back down to you
messenger traffic between earth and heaven.

Dream of the Lord
the Lord God of Truth—Jehovah El-Emeth
shining pure, clear, true, does-not-need-the-sun glory light over you.

He speaks.

You can’t move in your dream
you can’t hide behind some goat skin that smells of the fields
you can’t stir up a stew of deception
you can’t run to a far-off country
no grasping at heels—those heels already bruised by fang marks—
no help at this end of the staircase.
Lie there exposed
as lifeless as a stone pillow in some random place
and listen.

Listen to Him speak
of your grandfather        your father        you        your children
your descendants
offspring as many as the dust of the earth
—dust you were spitting out as you traveled through the heat yesterday,
dust that still grinds between your teeth.

He speaks and promises.

The sun rises on your day in that random place
that is random     no more.
You wake up and know that you are still you
but     the pillow of stone
is a pillar of remembrance,
the bed of misery has turned into the house of God
and your fear
stirred together in a pot with awe
feeds your worship of the Lord.

You leave through the gate of that place a new person
with a promise to return here, where you met the Lord
this random rock-place
that you’ve named.

“What’s the Name of This Place?” read by Nellie deVries.


From the west, men will fear the name of the Lord,
and from the rising of the sun,
they will revere his glory.
—Isaiah 59:19a

Sun setting over the lake
in the west
always the west
turning trees and docks
and swimmers
to black silhouettes
all eyes tuned
to the sun, the sun
blazing reds and oranges
hot pink the underside of clouds
like gilded edging
the Lord
the name of the Lord

After the darkness
after the silence of sleep
the slow rising
from black to deep purple
to true colors
the sun revealing
from the east
birds high in their flight
tips of trees show it first
sing up the sun
the greatest to the least
dew drops glistening on the grass
diamond-strewn path
his glory

“Fear/Revere,” read by Nellie deVries.

Poems by Nellie deVries have appeared in Peninsula Poets, VietNow, The 55 Project, Exhale, and the anthologies Busy Griefs, Raw Towns; Michigan Roots; and Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.

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Artwork: Jacob’s Dream by Frans Francken (1581-1642); Museo de Santa Cruz, Toledo, Spain.

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