Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A poem I found

So, I was looking through some old papers and came across a poem I wrote on the Feast of St. Hugh (google it) at Holy Cross Monastery in 1999.

It's obvious from the poem that I had gone to Holy Cross by myself because something was heavy on my heart. I have absolutely no idea (though I've pondered it since I found the poem) what that heaviness was or was about.

Perhaps the healing the poem is about really happened. Or, just perhaps, it is my capacity, whether it is genetic or learned, to absolutely 'forget' bad experiences. I remember most of the things that made me joyful and fulfilled. The things that weighed heavy on my heart at the time...I simply don't remember.

Anyway, here's the poem.

On the back porch of a monastery deep in the night

I smoke rapidly against the chill and to ward off the haunting,
    near-by moaning of a coyote for the moon.

Then I notice: the Hudson is as dark and smooth
    as a chapel floor.

I brought grave burdens to this Holy Place
to offer to the God
      of Confusion and Pain;
and have prayed all that away,
      emptying my gunny sack of

Then I notice: the windows of the house on the far side
      of the river
      glimmer like votive candles 
      in the crypt.

Without knowing why, the Darkness Inside
       my Soul has become the Darkness
       of this night.
And I am not afraid.

Then I notice: the clouds hang low
       in the frigid air,
       like incense above an altar.
       Leaves, dry and wind-pushed,
       shutter along
       the pathway below like
       ghostly footsteps
       of long dead monks.
(Somewhere an exhaust fan
        wheezes and rattles.
        A novice at his prayers.)

I did not expect such sudden, sweet relief.
I expected to howl at the moon of Pain,
        with stiff hairs on the back of my neck.

Then I notice: the wind through the trees
        the clickity-clack of the Albany train
        across the river.
        If I listen--really listen--like a creature
        unafraid of Darkness....
        Everything sounds like chanting.

God is everywhere.
In the Burden.
And in the laying
             of the

Back in my room--St. Mary's, this time--I have a small bottle of Merlot.

One more cigarette and then I go and drink it
         from my coffee-cup chalice,
         with gratefulness and peace
         before I sleep and dream.

It is then that I notice:
         the Blood of Christ.

(November 17, 1999--the Feast of St. Hugh.
West Park, New York.)
      ---Jim Bradley 


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About Me

some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.