A Name for Ourselves – a poem by Ryan Helvoigt

A Name for Ourselves 
 
Burning and brick and bitumen 
a stench of ambition 
and untested brotherhood 
common as language. 
“A name for ourselves” 
And what was that name? 
Forgotten, abandoned like 
the city, a broken fist 
raised to the heavens 
and slapped down. 
“Its name was called  
Babel”—an appellation  
not built, but breathed 
out of confusion, bestowed 
not for the accomplishments 
of man, but of God. 
 
I’ve not seen the plains 
of Shinar, but I too 
have feared dispersion 
and craved to graze  
the floor of heaven 
with grasping fingertips. 
Have ached for recognition 
built with boasting hands 
blistering with self-import. 
I’ve not spoken a universal  
tongue, but I too 
have danced to sirens’ 
song of camaraderie,  
ignoring the steady 
steps of obedience. 
Have drunk the wine  
of autonomy, becoming 
intoxicated with names.  
 
Unless the Lord builds 
the house, those who 
labor, labor in vain. 
How much more the city? 
How much more the tower? 
How much more the name?  
 

Ryan Helvoigt ​is a poet living in Durango, CO with her husband and two children. She holds an MDiv in missions from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Her work has appeared in Fathom Magazine

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