Awakened. The sound on the porch sings.
God weans the body and then pulls back
The whole night and long time through,
For the health of day and its children.
And night comes distant, stars apart,
Worlds pacified, naked desires calmed,
Put to bed, and there, too, must sleep.
Light years away, dandelion seeds,
Sparkle before my feet,
Surrender to the dark promise,
Earth's soil, the open hands of prayer
Come now, come to be words in me.
Strange how the growth is phenomenon,
Not dark, not light, but is becoming
Not unlike to me, similar, heart of fire.
And passion's protean dark life grows
Unknown; the mystery of what it is awakes.
Slowly it moves in the shadows,
Then in faint color, then in first light,
And fills the eye's pupil large with faith
And stirs the striving thought to seek
The hour, matins, the words without light:
A moment come awake,
The habit that it is, the mystery of me.
So it is at three in the morning I awake
The night to speak words to me of choice,
Of love's time, finite, but freely to expand.
So pray for me, then, quiet time
Pray in whose presence I presume to come;
Pray with me as I speak your words
That lay down my tired head to sleep.
But first, dear God, I will sing
The song of my little life and yours
Tingling on the porch like brittle glass
Hung dancing in your whispered words,
Wind, unseen in origin,
That plays the melody of me so long,
Long before the whisper perishes from my lips,
Long before it cries out to you: "Good night."
Gabriel Zeis was a Franciscan of the Third Order and directed postulants at Holy Spirit Monastery in Steubenville, Ohio when this poem appeared. His poem A Psalm of Royalty appeared in the May, 1980 Sojourners.