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Long Beach, CA

Hours Before Finishing a Sermon


Tonight I will have to beat this sermon into shape
I will sit at my desk like a blacksmith at his anvil 
And each stroke will make fall into place
The space for speaking and breathing 
A canal through which I’ll push some hope, a weary bark
On words hot enough to move the soul, and cool enough to not get fired 
(It’s no wonder Jesus built things, then for three years didn’t have a job)

But first I enjoy the jumble this afternoon of ideas which do not have to land
They are birds that race each other, gracing unthinking skies 
It is no pride for lilies to exalt in their grandeur
And no sin to sit here without sorting, just letting the wind from glad wings beat and beat
The line between procrastination and delight is a thin thing
And all these breezes are echoes of the future, when kites will stay afloat without the wind

I feel the longing for that place
And the pain as something is lost in each pounding of the hammer
Something lost when what could be becomes, instead, what is
And it’s good, what’s left in my hands
It has thick weight, like a metal sheaf of paper
But all the bright woodland birds which flitted about me are gone
And I am bereft at the loss of such good darlings 

This, though, is simple human fate: learn to live in loss
Enjoy the sparks and even dross that glow then fade away
And still hold on to what could be, while tending to what is
In this balance is nature’s secret:
Of trees and birds, bee and breeze,
All with such different lives—of moments, of centuries
All engaging, joyfully, the art of ever becoming 
Which gives us hope for what yet might be
A time and place when little birds will never land 
Yet never lose their strength

For more poetry, click here.