by: Clifford Douglas Hennings, OFM
Weary my soul no longer friend, stay your embrace no more
A ramshackle such as is me, is at the ready to disembark
To depart this ship of memory, thrashing in an ocean dark
And to step into that land long now seen, and kiss its gentle shore
In this time, my twilight hour, I do now name you friend
Long I dubbed you enemy, against your press I did defend
But Lo, you know, healing were the days and years of yore!
The dawning age of youthful dreams, thoughts of you I had none
A shadow cast and never seen, for having always faced the sun
A heart alight, green with glee and leaning into the fore
By quick expectancy, seeing neither starboard, port nor stern
Brilliant were the waters then, with passion mine eyes did burn!
Yet in the high-light hours of day, came a tempest’s rolling roar
Ahead it drew before the light, throwing gloom, arousing fear
Against the squalling of its breath, valiantly I fought to steer
Straining for victory and pressing on, ever clutching to my oar
I saw the fright of shadows then, and new my fate to be
And saw the swells of water then, swallow many into the sea
But Woe!, I said full throatily, this affront means War!
I steeled myself, prepared my arms and set my face like flint
To cast my bones as iron shod, resolved to remain unbent
Yet vain were my labors made, when nearing the endless bore
Alas, I did not see you then, did not know your subtle way
How your casting shadows made, a contrast for the day
How the gleaming things of light, always you they wore
Your darkness ever follows them, beauty wears you at her feet
And all the burnished sights of day, in the end you they meet
For how confused a world would be, so made without your score
A puzzled dash of colors thrown, senseless and undefined
And so for life to win its fame, with you it is entwined
It took the years for me to see, to find your hidden lore
Now I see your shadow caste, from a mountain out at sea
The sun behind its highest peak, and no more long to flee
Readied to quit this feeble ship, and breach its veiled shore
Name my life by these final hours, you my constant kin
And tell my tale of dread and joy, as it has always been!
Clifford Hennings, OFM is a solemnly professed brother of the Order of Friars Minor in the Province of Saint John the Baptist. He is a third year student in the Master of Divinity program at Catholic Theological Union.