Commentary Magazine


Apologia Pro Vita Nostra

How cool within the fiery
furnace of His creatures
the young men daily raise
wide sleeves in happy praise
to His more-than-natural ways:
See how they rise at Lauds
each from his place,
banked line to line against
each other’s grace.

Then see us, sweating, sad,
like animals from nature,
that cannot hold to hear
His open voice for fear
what once was, will be, clear:
See how we, beating, breast
each other’s sins,
that all our rage may be
forgiven Him.

When we were young, we stared
hour-long at mirror eyes,
suddenly to surprise
our true identity:

Who now that we have grown
through the simple glass
know, We are not our past,
but what we think

or seem. Birds we followed once
in longing and in flight
across His empty sky
defy their own

formations: “Veer away, away,
stragglers turn, leaders,
Jesus ends as Caesar,
all can be

what none was really born to.”
When young we denied
ourselves in every guise:
We were His.

But now we must hail
the living evidence—
our foxhead against
His lion tail.

_____________

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