I do not know what I have done
and I do not suspect God will answer me
whether I am on my knees at the alter
or on a walk through the woods.
And what is worse is that each morning
I wake and look into the mirror
only to wonder whose eyes those are
that look back at me with such reproach.
There is a promise I have threatened to make
which, with twisted words, might mean
I will love my self, but, on some days
it is more a bargain just to see the sunset
and lay my head down again upon the pillow
in the slight knowledge that tomorrow might be better,
might be the day when my soul walks inside of me—
not two steps behind and one to the right.
Down at the river where the rusted railroad bridge
supports the many nests of swallows
I gamble with the dusk, with bread that draws
the ducks over to speak for me
to the God who must reside in the distorted sky
as it is reflected in the water below the bridge,
below the darting swallows, as a McDonalds’ cup
fails to snag on any of the river’s branches or rocks.
But no one speaks, except for that voice within my head,
the voice that says, You are ugly. You incompetent boob.
You … The list goes on and reciting it darkens the moon
as it rises above the trees, as the sun filters orange and red.
There is the offer of the bridge, of the bloated fish that float by,
of the river’s merciless current that lifts the dead and discarded
and carries them toward the sea—but the river with its flow
will not fill the emptiness, nor carry me back to God’s loving arms.
copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney