Astonishment of Heart

by Ronnie Sirmans

(Deuteronomy 28:28)

I knew more about tongue-in-cheek
versus turn-the-other, but chose to seek
teaching my son Matthew that violence
was not akin to comedy. But defiance
begins early, so there were school fights
and lessons too on our wrongs and rights.

Did the Lord not smite many an Egyptian? 
Did Absalom’s servants not smite Amnon?
At times there were warnings against smitings
but who always heeds even the divinest tidings? 
I saw that smite was too close to spite, 
both words too near to suffering a slight.

One day, dropping a syllable of his name,
Matt turned older, yet differently the same.
Loves would come, new lives to start,
then I understood astonishment of heart.
In a world where now even less is bidden,
it remains conflicted and yet smittened.

We often don’t get to pick what we see:
Without even lifting a finger against me, 
he would disappear like sleight of hand, 
having in due time become his own man.
Yes, in that felt absence, I duly noted:
I had become the one who was smoted.

Ronnie Sirmans is an Atlanta print newspaper digital editor whose poetry has appeared in Fathom, Sojourners, Ekstasis, Reformed Journal, America, Heart of Flesh, and elsewhere.

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