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 Magazine, Dappled Things, the St. Austin Review, U.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.