Buoyancy and Splash

by Virginia Ramey Mollenkott

A colorful abstract graphic suggesting waves and splashing water.

This is the time of letting go.
A flower cannot bloom until a seed bursts its hot heart,
Yields its identity to moisture, soil, and sun,
Surrenders its seedness to stem and leaves and life
And at long last, to the juicy thrust of flower.
A river cannot open into sea
If it clings to its identity as river,
Hanging back in stagnant side-pools,
Afraid to take the plunge.
Only if it can gird up its river-heart,
Release all it has ever known
(Those familiar riverbanks)
Can it learn the buoyancy and splash
Of an ocean wave. And even then
If it defines itself as a solitary wave
Crashing against a singular rock
It will think itself little, limited, and helpless.
But letting go of its separated waveness
The wave relaxes into moon-sucked motion
Surging with the vast pulsebeat of the sea.

Oh, my cowering, crouching heart:
Do you want to be a seed clenching its teeth
Against a flower that struggles to be born?
Do you want to be a river growing brackish
In a backwater pond, toxic with fear of flowing?
Do you want to be a wave that thinks itself only a wave
Instead of the movement of Infinite Ocean
Embracing Earth and rocking with the moon?

Ah, my constricted heart:
To know the power that is your heritage,
You must let go.
Let go.
Let go.

CFT 50th Anniversary logo (CFT regular logo in gold)© 1996 Virginia Ramey Mollenkott. Originally published in Update, volume 20 number 3 Fall 1996. Reprinted by permission. This special Untold Volumes selection was originally published in 1996. In honor of CFT’s 50th anniversary, CFT is republishing some articles, reviews, and other pieces which were previously unavailable online. 

Virginia Ramey Mollenkott
Virginia Ramey Mollenkott (1932-2020) is the author or co-author of 13 books, including several on women and religion. She is a winner of the Lambda Literary Award (in 2002) and has published numerous essays on literary topics in various scholarly journals. In 1975, she spoke at the first national gathering of the Evangelical Women’s Caucus in Washington, D.C., and delivered plenary speeches at almost every gathering of the organization over the next 40 years. She has lectured widely on lesbian, gay, and bisexual rights and has also been active in the transgender cause. Mollenkott was married to Judith Suzannah Tilton until her death in 2018, and has one son and three granddaughters. She earned her B.A. from Bob Jones University, her M.A. from Temple University, and her Ph.D. from New York University. She received a Lifetime Achievement award from SAGE, Senior Action in a Gay Environment, a direct-service and advocacy group for seniors in New York City in 1999. In 2017 she was awarded the inaugural Mother Eagle Award. Even in her late 80s, Virginia Ramey Mollenkott continued to use her doctorate in English to share insights with folks who visit the EEWC and Mollenkott websites, and with elderly people in the Cedar Creek Community educational programs. She deeply regretted that her severe arthritis forbade her presence at the social justice protests during the Trump presidency.


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