Poem: Even Here

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Even Here

There are mountains in the distance.
Lovely, green, underlain with slate,
they block the morning sun
and hasten the fall of dusk,
dark shadows against the day.

There are mountains in the distance.
In the winter cold winds rush down their sides
and reduce the thickest coat to uselessness.
Even the brave shiver
as the snow cuts like frozen glass

“I lift my eyes” sings the psalmist.
“to the mountains, from whence cometh my help.”
An odd promise to those of us who live here
in the shadow of death where seasons die young
and life is a battle for warmth.

A walk takes you to the nineteen fifties.
Clapboard houses. Farms. Horses run and cows meander.
There are gardens in every yard save yours.
You have let yours run wild this year,
untamed perennials bloom and die.
Wildflowers punctuate the mornings, fading by dusk.

The early dusk, as the sun falls captive to the dark peaks.
It may look like the nineteen fifties, but those days are gone,
even here. Every sin and brokeness thrive here
as well as anywhere else you can imagine, maybe more so.
There is darkness and pain everywhere, just beyond
the freshly painted clapboard.

You pray in the morning. A solitary discipline. A habit
that has carried you through seasons
of pain and loss of everything, even, absurdly,
yourself.  Some days you wonder if he is there.
You wonder if the mountains have perhaps blocked the signal
and you pray alone.

Other days, life is lightning and wonder.
Your soul bristles with the power of prayers answered.
There is warmth where it makes no sense to have warmth
and you dance in the dark, never minding the mountains
that once protected you, but have become something different
as age and time and experience has remade you.

No longer a fortress, the jagged hills have become a thing
to break down, move past, climb and conquer.
Not exactly an enemy, but no longer a friend, you are challenged
to grow, to ignore the dark, and find your own light,
Your soul seeks the shores of earth and heaven,
to grasp each moment of light that God created

and make it your own.

Never mind your profaneness.
Never mind the litany of flaws every one knows,
for there are no secrets here in this tiny corner of the world
where you live.
Never mind that your strength is not yours. It is a borrowed thing,
a shared thing between God and his people, even you.
Ah yes, even you. Even here. Even now,
the signal reaches.

About this poem

There is so much going on in this poem that talking about it seems senseless. Spiritual elements. Cultural commentary. A statement about my love for mountains, and how it has shifted to a desire to be near the sea. A statement about love. And grace. Always grace. A true stew, this one.

So let it mean what it means to you. That’s how it should be.

Tom

PS – the picture was taken just down the street in West Pawlet, VT.

 

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