Monday, January 30, 2012


Fourteen silver-haired ladies and a dozen men
in suits of the same cut they have worn to church for the last fifty years
hobble to their feet and sing a hymn
to the God who has shown them through
trenches, ditches, air and sea and wind
of which I can only dream, only imagine, open-mouthed,
the days of charging through an island stronghold
expecting, any moment, the cold heat of lead to end
a life that seems, in the moment, unbearably brief;
and I can only imagine, open-mouthed, the unbearable
wait, the waking and sleeping with the knowledge
that the one my soul loves could pass from this world
at any moment.

As the ragged hymn rises to the rafters
I can hear, just beyond the range of hearing,
angels join the song.

After church these same soldiers are happy to see me,
and these warriors serve me food. They are not conceited enough
to respect me based on the number of books
I have read or the number of degrees which do or might
bear my name; yet they serve me
as if they were the ones who had everything to prove
and I the one who had saved an entire generation from a firestorm.
That, I realize in a blinding flash, is what grace looks like.

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