Yet our hope lies
in the unknown,
in our unknowing.
—Denise Levertov, Mass for the Day of St. Thomas Didymus
From the Old French redoutable, from redouter
(to dread), from re- (again), douter (to doubt, fear). An
acknowledgment, a coming to terms with,
what’s unknown is terrible.
St. Thomas, no doubt, terrible for his doubts,
called Didymus, called Doubting Thomas, the terrible
Didymus, with sight and blind with sight. What is he to you, now—
you, who grope your way about this wounded
world. Your doubt is not exceptional—your doubt is commonplace.
Such is terror,
our terror, each day’s terror, almost a form of boredom, like a dog
licking its wounds, with its tongue rasping
the gape and gouge—the world, whole world, a wound—the wound
with saliva and lysozyme, with spittle and thrombospondin. With spittle,
starting with the eyes, with mud and spittle in the eye and a man saying, “Go
and wash yourself. And see.” Or stick your finger inside and work
it around a bit. Or hesitate, dubitare, waver
between two things, two premises like a dilemma—we live in terror of
what we know, we live in terror of what we do not know.
Duo-, duwo-, tweon, twin—
and Thomas meaning twin and Didymus, too,
be of two minds in the matter. Two, yes, dubious
minds and one in disbelief. While the others wag
a finger and say, “Keep your hands to yourself, why don’t you, Thomas, and if
you do not mind.” Wiggle not thy finger in, and do, or do not, believe in.
Blessed is he who believes. Blessed is he who is able
to nibble fish. To bear the thrust of our hands, and the repeated
thrust of our unbelief. Or a finger in the fissure. Or the plunge of an arm
to its elbow, in and out. Who is able
to be doubted, himself, redoubtable, then, as now, again and again.
First published in issue 8.2, Spring 2016, of Relief.