Apologia

Came an offer, cutting a four months slice
out of my whole grain life
Would I voyage to the Colombian jungle, the Argentine waters,
to advise and consent (to differ, raise mild hell)
in uneasy consonance--
to assemble a scattered myth
the bare bones of the heroic dead?

Who could tell if their spirit escaped
split skulls, rent bodies, tempest and travail
to haunt our history, advise, consent, raise holy hell
in the misspent, misshapen world,
edgy, sputtering, intent on dealing
the knockout blow

to the Mount of Blessing
and the Man of the Mountain,
to the Maker and Walker of waves
to the pearl of price
the plenteous harvest
the groaning table
of the Kingdom banquet.

Therefore came.
Would have the pearl
agleam in the mind
and the prodigal boy
in tears reconciled
and the wretch by the road
unaccountably succored.

and Jesus the weaver
of chansons de geste
undisplaced by dissonant
artisans of ruin.
Jesus striking
like a blind harper
the song of the end
who sees in the dark
of days, the light.

The heroic dead.
A vagrant hint, a gleam of spirit,
a playful beckoning; why not come?

Therefore came.
Steep, steep the way.
Pursue the gleam. The story half told
retold. And over and over
and again and again.
And no way out.
And 'I am the way.'

Daniel Berrigan, S.J., was a poet, peace activist, and a Sojourners contributing editor when this article appeared.

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