Forty Days of Fasting

by Arturo Ruiz

As the deer longs for the water brooks
So longs my soul for you, O Lord. —Psalm 42


Everything violent
that enters the heart
defiles from within.

We observed his disciples
how they did not eat
how they waited
at the edge of the woods
gaunt and dour
their palates whet
at the sight of a rabbit grazing.

Hunger, the primitive desire.

This must be a test:
The Teacher
who stations his students
near ashen trees—

their cracked lips envious
of a deer drinking
at the water brook in the distance.

Normal behavior
of the starving
is violence.

Look, a line of geese, smallest to biggest—
then restraint.

How long can one sustain
such emptiness?

With their lips, their hearts,
they cling to God.

They shall die
dedicated to God.