Poetry speaks to the heart through the experience of another. The
effort it takes to lay aside our own views and feelings and enter into someone
else's vision helps us to prepare our hearts to be open to the wisdom of God.
This Sunday's Poetry
The Father of the Younger Son
(“While he was still far off his father saw him.” Luke 15:20)
Even after I gave up
keeping the tiger cub
in his cage, I picked it up,
forgetting snarls and claws
though I have bite marks,
scratches, to show love
comes late, scarred to wisdom.
Though you protect the cub
from larger cats, beware.
Young tigers have no shame.
The years I do not count
that I have passed the window in the front
searching the road for a sign
of that tiger no leash could check,
unmuzzled, free, and bleeding.
The helpless ache is ordinary,
the Thursday tedious, as I give a
passing glance through the window
at the dot on the far horizon
walking as many have walked before.
But the way he swings his arms,
turns his head, slightly
pigeon-toed. I am out the door,
down the stairs, down the road,
running, arms outstretched.
My embrace, my tears, my laughter
gather in all the years,
my kiss stops rehearsed
genealogies of sin, outlawing the self.
Of course, you are my son.
Be quick, steward, clothe him
as befits the son of a king,
the best robe from my chest,
goose the cook, load
the table with meats and wines.
Call in friends and foes,
blaze the night into day
torches, push the chairs
against the wall, pluck the harps,
strike the largest timbrel.
When the dead come back you drink.
When the lost are found you dance.
from Swift, Lord, You are Not
Published 2003 by St John’s University Press.
Used with kind permission.
Copyright: The Order of St Benedict