The book of Ezekiel opens
with a windstorm.
be seen as windstorm.
The body heaves,
on the temple.
There was a year, age 22, when I couldn’t stop
vomiting, where doctors dismissed
my body and its movements.
No one knew
what was wrong.
You could also compare
an MRI tube to a windstorm.
Loud, frantic: pick the adjective
that fits best. But you can’t move
against the violence.
I want to track Ezekiel’s
how his body
The first time I’m in an MRI tube
the technicians let me pick the music.
I say how about the classics? and I’m stuck
listening to all of “Bohemian Rhapsody”
while lying motionless.
Mama, just killed a man.
I close my eyes and choreograph
a dance to each new song.
A nurse’s voice
comes over the intercom
and says they have to redo the last
test. I moved a finger too much.
I’m no theologian.
I’m not trained
to interpret scripture.
But I have a body
Body comes from the Old English bodig,
meaning trunk of a man or beast.
Katie is the diminutive form of Katherine, and
comes from the Greek katharos, meaning pure.
or pure beast?
Ezekiel’s opening vision is often
called the “throne-chariot vision.”
Four cherubim, four faces each,
guard God’s holiness. Terrifying.
The body falls,
facedown in God’s
presence. It’s not
until the Spirit
that he can rise.
When I learn the MRI shows a lesion
on my frontal lobe, I do not rise. I
grab the carpet and curl into the fetal
position. My parents and I play telephone
roulette all afternoon: boyfriend, best
friend, pastor, weirdly spiritual aunt,
brother, brother, brother.
The Spirit lifts Ezekiel approximately ten times
during his years as a prophet. Scholars disagree
on the logistics: some think the Spirit just helps
Ezekiel stand up, a few think Ezekiel literally soars
over Babylon, and still others believe this lifting
puts Ezekiel in a trance. That it’s all in his head,
like a metaphor, or a lesion.
I don’t think it matters which is correct.
What matters is the body permitting movement.
My parents and I meet
with a neurologist, and
we learn four things:
1) I have a lump on my brain
the size of a raspberry
2) the lump is an incidental finding,
meaning: the doctor wasn’t
looking for it, it shouldn’t be there
3) the lump cannot be classified without an invasive
and potentially dangerous biopsy, so instead
the doctor writes in her notes that it’s either
an asymptomatic, low-grade glioma,
or focal cortical dysplasia.
Until I present symptoms consistent
with either condition, the lump
continues as just that: a lump
4) We still don’t know
why I’m vomiting
glia comes from the Greek for glue
and glioma has its roots in medical
Latin, meaning glue tumor.
I find this image soothing:
trying to mend
In chapter 3, God asks Ezekiel
to eat a scroll, containing “words
of lament and mourning and woe.”
For the next seven years,
Ezekiel can only speak silence.
Ezekiel can only speak God.
My next two procedures are an endoscopy
and a gastric emptying test. Both involve
foreign objects entering my mouth and
travelling down the esophagus.
Scripture doesn’t say how
the scroll moved, only
that Ezekiel ate it.
Gastroparesis, from the Latin for stomach paralysis,
is when the muscles in the digestive tract don’t function
at the optimal level, slowing the digestive process.
I am diagnosed with gastroparesis shortly
after learning about my brain lesion.
I have a new doctor who prescribes
medication, dietary changes.
Eventually, I stop vomiting.
It sounds so small
when I say it like
that, like my body
just went back to normal.
To a normal.
In chapter 4, God commands Ezekiel to lie
on his side for 430 days and bear the sin
of Israel and Judah, all while still prophesying.
Scholars disagree on this, too: whether
Ezekiel lied on his side for twenty-four hours
a day or for just a few hours each day.
The scholars seem too caught up in the details.
They forget to see the body for what it is:
a body without
My neurologist prescribes “serial radiographic
surveillance,” and my second MRI takes place
during a thunderstorm.
I know this because the nurses stop
the procedure when the lights flicker.
The nurses stop the procedure
when the lights flicker.
I hear someone tell me to hang tight.
They don’t pull me from the tube.
There’s rummaging, muttering,
and I wait,
my body waits.
MRI is short for magnetic resonance imaging.
I had to look that up, eventhough my body
has had eight MRIs in the last three years.
I ask God
if He could
take it back—
In chapter 10, Ezekiel has a vision
of God’s glory as a cloud
from the temple
The cloud moves,
Ezekiel’s seen cherubim
before, his first vision,
but when he sees God’s glory
departing, the violence that comes
after, Ezekiel falls. Again.
Some scholars believe
this cloud is symbolic. Others
suggest it’s a theophany,
when God manifests
Himself in a tangible way.
I don’t have an answer.
But I know it’s possible
for God to exist without
a body. To move,
By age 24, I’ve adjusted to a normal.
Sometimes, I vomit. Sometimes,
I need an MRI.
My neurologist checks a little box
that says I still present no signs
of “neural distress,”
and I keep praying
what do you call
Theophany combines the Greek
theos meaning god
and phainein, meaning
bring to light
I’m not always sure
what to ask for
if asking for a new
for a theophany
what if everything
with me is a little
sometimes the only way
to accept my body
is to believe
Three Hebrew words used in Ezekiel come
close to our modern translation of body:
basar (בָּשָׂר), meaning flesh, gviyah (גְּוִיָּה),
meaning corpse, and nephesh (נֶפֶשׁ), meaning soul.
there is no direct translation.
Ezekiel had a body and no
to describe it
or perhaps an abundance
At age 25, my back starts twinging,
pain starts shooting down my leg.
A new doctor suspects a bulging disc,
recommends physical therapy, says
most discs heal in six
months with physical therapy.
In chapter 11, Ezekiel becomes
so distraught over God’s
Alas, Sovereign Lord!
Will you completely destroy
the remnant of Israel?
The physical therapy doesn’t help,
and six months later I’m on crutches.
My doctor orders another MRI.
Alas, Sovereign Lord!
think his words
parables, that he’s
I have my back MRI the same
week I have my annual brain
MRI. I hobble in
and the nurse asks
me why I’m having two tests
in two days, then looks me up
and down and goes:
the hell are the crutchesfor?
against a body
I have no energy
to answer the nurse,
explain how a body
can divide attention.
In chapter 25, Ezekiel
as if what
as if God’s
The back MRI shows
what the doctor expected:
lumbar herniated disc
causing left leg radiculopathy.
When I see the image of my disc,
how it protrudes from my spine
like an almost-popped balloon,
I feel like I’m going to vomit.
Instead, I pass out. The doctor tells me
later that surgery is the best option.
Hernia comes from the Latin
for rupture, and radiculopathy
combines the Latin radix,
meaning root, with pathos,
The words feel dangerous
even in your mouth.
against a body
is a violence.
We never learn all the details
of Ezekiel’s body during his
years as a prophet.
We know he spoke much of
violence. That he was angry.
That he despaired.
The anesthesiologist wants a complete
medical history, anything that might
complicate my surgery.
I tell her about my stomach, my brain,
and she says the anesthesia
may cause me to vomit.
My body knows this.
In chapter 33, God unmutes
Ezekiel after Jerusalem’s fall.
The first words Ezekiel spoke?
It takes months after my surgery
to return to a normal.
The truth is, it’s never a normal.
There’s new pain,
new ways to discover
The truth is
it’s still a body.
In chapter 43, God’s glory
to the temple.
Some scholars think
it’s the same cloud
Ezekiel falls. Literally.
And again, the Spirit
Ezekiel’s body witnessing
God’s glory, after
I’ve scheduled another MRI,
more follow-up visits
with different doctors.
Sometimes my back still hurts,
I wake up with pain
in my leg. I’m told this
is a normal.
The book of Ezekiel ends
with a division of land
among the twelve tribes,
the final verses
documenting the gate that surrounds
a new sanctuary city.
It would be too easy to end
this poem here, to say
my body, too, will one day
witness God’s glory.
That’s not what
this poem was about.
I try falling facedown
if the Spirit
will lift me.