“a light that shines in the dark,
a light that darkness could not overcome.”
(John 1: 5, The Jerusalem Bible)
Charles asks me why, removed from
my university standing, my ambiguous title
“Doctor” of only words healing, language
chambered in the four-roomed heart
filling like water rising from the earth
I have instructed children to walk
softly upon, one pencil stroke at a time
cautiously drawn upon a page
to fold into a sheaf of poems . . . ,
asks me why I am here at City Light
Community Ministries serving
the Displaced lined up,
a learned patience, from the streets.
Is it, he prompts, because
I am “doing the Lord’s work,” Jesus’s calling . . .
To bring good news to the poor in spirit–
a cup refilled with sweet tea, a bowl
of colorful soup, fried chicken, corn,
cauliflower, broccoli, potatoes,
French-cut green beans,
soft fruit, the surprise of chocolate cake?
To heal the broken-hearted,
prayer requests both voiced
and shaped on lips forming a private
language of silent faith
where there is doubt, a hopeless
hope against despair?
To proclaim liberty to captives
enthralled by demons of heights and depths,
that daily rising and falling, lost
without a voice cast louder than
demons’ whispered promise, lost
without a hand’s touch: Be healed?
To declare new sight to eyes
shut tight against visions
of an endless street?
To lift the downtrodden free
of duffle bags heavy with life’s burdens,
private accumulations bending their backs
beneath the load?
Am I, Charles asks, proclaiming
the Lord’s moment-by-moment Favor,
Daily Bread, Peace that passes