Lament

by Jeffrey Essmann

Within these straits there is,
I know (I think, I hope), 
a subtle grace to which 
my raw and selfish eyes 
are blind.
So I in blindness turn to you,
my light, my hope, my
shadow deep,
in deeper yet lament.

Too well I know the airlessness of sin:
my own and better yet
the airlessness of others.
But now its vacuum
sucks the globe of atmosphere;
the breath kissed into Adam
fetid now lies in our lungs.

And this I fear
has brought us to this place
of punishment and loss, 
so dark and drear
I hardly know how to complain:
I know not if
I’m harried at your distance
or is it that you’ve drawn so close
I prickle at your mystery.


If my heart breaks,
oh God,
will it be held as a complaint;
my soul faint in the dust,
a turning from your frown,
your holy frown,
your sad displeasure?
Am I to pray
or sacrifice?
To curse an unkind fate and die?
Or am I just to hide my face
as you enflame but not consume
and pass so darkly by?

Jeffrey Essmann is an essayist and poet living in New York. His poetry has appeared in numerous magazines and literary journals, among them America MagazineDappled Things, the St. Austin ReviewU.S. Catholic, Grand Little Things and various venues of the Benedictine monastery with which he is an oblate. He is editor of the Catholic Poetry Room page on the Integrated Catholic Life website.

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