Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Poem As I Approach Gaudete Sunday


Consider the angels.

Because maybe the broken men get too much attention.
Drunk with power and impotent with the kind of blind rage
That will carelessly hurl their countrymen down to the grave,
They try, in fiery futility, to salve some inner wound
By wasting the lives of others in blind fury and then,
(Perhaps in a final moment of penitent clarity,
or in obedience to the last demonic urge)
Waste themselves,
As mothers wail.

This monotone litany of nightmares,
It’s a constant, manicured, damnable drone.  The same words
We have heard again and again.  I am no wise man,
I can find no meaning in them.
Cameras frame parents hunched over, clutching each other
Like living icons of passion and grief, offered so that we might worship.
And I’m ashamed at how hard it is not to continue to stare
At this flickering, televised altar of perfect priests and the grief they sell.

What I need now doesn’t come from gazing at monsters.
But from giving thanks for the angels:

For brave souls in badges and brims,
Who run towards the fire, not away,
Who guide the children to safety,
Who help legs paralyzed with fear find their feet and find their home again;

For dumbstruck neighbors who stop everything,
And cry together so no one has to cry alone;

For men and women and children on the other side of the world,
Who do not know us but mourn with us anyway,
Knowing that we are family;

For people who see the darkness of despair descending,
And resolve to be light today, and keep that resolution tomorrow.

And for the teachers.  The teachers
Who will somehow find a way to make their feet walk back into their schools;
Who have seen the monsters, and know they are real, and yet,
Who refuse to worship their fear.
They know it is better
To kneel on the floor, and read, and play,
Remembering for all of us,
With good will and with daily acts of intercession,
That nothing must be allowed to stop
The sacred work
Of children.

Photo by David O'Hara


David L. O’Hara


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