by Jeffrey Essmann

(after George Herbert)

I tell myself it’s Lent and only fit
To brush against the ache
Of blank psychology and random bits
Of memory that snake
Their way along the edges of my soul;
To feel an ancient sinfulness unroll.

I gaze on Him who’s pinioned to the Tree
Which all my pains should pale;
The saving blood there I can clearly see,
But chiefly feel the nails:
I’m fastened tightly to some human loss,
Its subtle contours on my heart embossed.

Yet in the dark I sense a presence near,
A warmth subsumes the cold,
A tender voice reminds me not to fear.
For what the Tree has told
Us boldly as it points us toward the grave
Is suff’ring’s strange capacity to save.

Jeffrey Essmann is an essayist and poet living in New York. His poetry has appeared in numerous magazines and literary journals, among them Dappled Things, the St. Austin ReviewThe Society of Classical PoetsAmethyst ReviewAgape ReviewAmerica MagazineU.S. Catholic, Heart of Flesh Literary Journal, Edge of FaithPensive, 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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