Kumin, Maxine

United States, (b. 1925)

The Jesus Infection

  1. Jesus is with me
  2. on the Blue Grass Parkway going eastbound.
  3. His is with me
  4. on the old Harrodsburg Road coming home.
  5. I am listening
  6. to country gospel music
  7. in the borrowed Subaru.
  8. The gas pedal
  9. and the words
  10. leap to the music.
  11. O throw out the lifeline!
  12. Someone is drifting away.
  13.  
  14. Flags fly up in my mind
  15. without my knowing
  16. where they’ve been lying furled
  17. and I am happy
  18. living in the sunlight
  19. where Jesus is near.
  20. A man is driving his polled Herefords
  21. across the gleanings of a cornfield
  22. while I am bound for the kingdom of the free.
  23. At the little trestle bridge that has no railing
  24. I see that I won’t have to cross Jordan alone.
  25.  
  26. Signposts every mile exhort me
  27. to Get Right With God
  28. and I move over.
  29. There’s a neon message blazing
  30. at the crossroad
  31. catty-corner to the Burger Queen:
  32. Ye Come With Me.
  33. It is well with my soul, Jesus?
  34. It sounds so easy
  35. to be happy after the sunrise,
  36. to be washed in the crimson flood.
  37.  
  38. Now I am tailgating
  39. and I read a bumper sticker
  40. on a Ford truck full of Poland Chinas.
  41. Its says: Honk If You Know Jesus
  42. and I do it.
  43. My sound blats out for miles
  44. behind the pigsqueal
  45. and it’s catching in the front end,
  46. in the axle,
  47. in the universal joint,
  48. this rich contagion.
  49.  
  50. We are going down the valley on a hairpin turn,
  51. the swine and me, we’re breakneck in
  52. we’re leaning on
  53. the everlasting arms.

© Maxine Kumin. Selected poems, 1960-1990. New York: Norton (1997).

About the Poet:

Maxine Kumin (b. 1925) is a U.S. poet and author. She received her B.A. in 1946 and her M.A. in 1948 from Radcliffe College. She has taught and held held appointments as a visiting lecturer and poet in residence at many American colleges and universities including
Tufts University, Brandeis University, University of Massachusetts—Amherst, MIT, Princeton, Columbia and New England College.

Kumin has been the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, and an American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Award. She was the poetry consultant for the Library of Congress in 1981-1982 and was the Poet Laureate of New Hampshire, and a former Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets.

Kumin’s poetry collections include Where I Live: New and Selected Poems 1990-2010 (2010), Still to Mow (2007), Jack and Other New Poems (2005), The Long Marriage (2003), Selected poems, 1960-1990 (1997), Our Ground Time Here Will Be Brief (1982), and Up Country: Poems of New England (1972), for which she received the Pulitzer Prize. [DES-03/12]

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