Spiritual Mathematics

by David Romtvedt

You can’t trust a television minister.
It’s partly the synthetic materials in the suits,
and partly the church interior that is designed
to resemble a Hollywood version of itself.

The great masters could be known
by their appearance alone—the exterior
accurately mirroring the interior,
whatever that means.

The masters were careful about crossing
a frozen stream or entering enemy territory
in daylight. They weren’t so much guests
in the world as birds flying above it.

The minister tells me that if I want
more money to spend on my family,
I should give more money to the church.
This is called spiritual mathematics.

When you are hunting deer in the fall
and the snow begins to fly, at first
not sticking to the ground, later piling up
until your hat brim sags and wet snow

slides down your neck and shoulders,
will you have the will to sit patiently
and await the deer? Here the shy animal
comes now. See how it lifts its small dark feet

out of the shining snow, the clear tracks,
the cloud of breath. Maybe you see
it’s not necessary to kill it
in the moment just after you shoot.

DAVID ROMTVEDT lives in Buffalo, Wyoming where he’s spent his time as a writer, musician, ranch hand, and professor—part time at everything. Married into a Basque family, he’s spent years as the musical accompanist for the Bighorn Basque Dance Troupe and with the band Ospa performs traditional Basque music in old and new ways. The band’s cd is Hori da! (That’s it!).  His most recent novel is Zelestina Urza in Outer Space (University of Nevada Center for Basque Studies, 2015) and most recent book of poems is Dilemmas of the Angels (Louisiana State University Press, 2017).

Photo: “Doe in the Snow” by Richard Carter