Troy D. Reeves taught English literature for 36 years. He lives in Nixa, Mo.
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As I walked through the wilderness of this world, I lighted on a certain place where
was a den, and laid me down in that place to sleep; and as I slept, I dreamed a dream.
—The Pilgrim’s Progress
I stand at the edge of these sharded cliffs
Time and the sea have splintered away
From this rotten stump of island,
Fit only for felons and the likes of me.
The glorious ocean spreads out of sight,
Moving, moving, with no signs of life.
But, beneath the calm I know there lies
An empire old as the birth of time,
A kingdom swollen with citizenry:
Jellyfish, groupers, turtles, rays,
Serpents splitting the currents like grass,
Sharks and the fearsome leviathan.
Freedom? You can’t get there from here.
But from where I stand I could leap out,
Crash through blue mist coiling the shore,
Mesh with the pebbles that constitute
The thread of beach strung out below,
And wait for Jesus to remember me.
On the other hand, I could just crawl
Back into my cave, do my best to ignore
The lost years charcoaled on the walls
And the stench of human occupation,
Lie down, stretch out, fold my hands
Behind my head, and close my eyes,
My last thoughts being, before sleep:
If the deep blue holds such mystery,
What must the secrets of heaven be?