by Jeffrey Essmann

Elijah headed wadi-ward upon declaring drought,
For Yahweh promised he would help the mighty prophet out:
“I’ll send you ravens night and day. They’ll bring you bread and meat.
For drink you’ve got the wadi wet with waters cool and sweet.”
Then it dried up, the ravens left, Elijah was perplexed.
But Yahweh promised He would have a widow feed him next.

St. Benedict spent three whole years alone within a cave,
But every day would give a raven food that he had saved.
Though loved by many, there was one who wished that he were dead:
A jealous priest who sent the saint a loaf of poisoned bread.
But Benedict bade fast the bird it far away to take;
Not sure at first, the raven then removed the deadly cake.

No prophet I nor holy monk renowned throughout the West,
I say my prayers, I do my work, I guess I do my best.
God knows I might not well prevail against a Jezebel
Or last for long were I confined within a monkish cell.
Yet nonetheless, he sends a crow each morning as I pray
That caws me back to godly thoughts when I would go astray.

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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