Poetry: “A’slumber in the Smoke”

Well, even by 2020 standards, it’s been an anxiety-provoking week. Regardless of your stance on politics, the tension surrounding the presidential election has been felt everywhere you go and as if that wasn’t stressful enough, COVID-19 cases only continue to rise.

I certainly have thoughts and opinions about all of the above, but does the world really need my two cents about these topics? Personally, I’ve deleted all of my social media from my phone for the purpose of not having to hear so many opinions, hot takes, and arguments, so I have no desire to throw my hat in the ring.

But on this crazy evening, I can offer what gave me so much comfort throughout high school: poetry. Every week, my Great Books class would open with the reading of a poem. We didn’t hotly debate the poem like we did so many other topics. We weren’t even encouraged to have the most intellectual commentary about the poem. We would merely read it and find something about the work that drew our attention. No matter how ill-prepared I was for the rest of our class, no matter how distracted I was by exterior fears, for those twenty to thirty minutes of poetry conversation, I could rest in my fascination with language and its ability to create landscapes in the mind.

So tonight, instead of a regular post, I want to share a poem that I wrote back in September. It’s nothing compared to the masterpieces I read in Great Books, but as it’s written about resting in the midst of uncertainty, I thought it would be appropriate to share. Maybe when you’re done reading, look up some poetry on your bookshelf or on your PC. If you need some recommendations, Christina Rosetti and John Donne are two of my favorite poets, but of course you can never go wrong with masters like Shakespeare and Dickinson. Grab a cup of tea and candle if you want the aesthetic, but for however long you read, allow yourself to rest in the words you encounter. Are there any lines that stand out? Any images that inspire you? Emotions that align with yours? You deserve rest, friend. Don’t be afraid to seek it out through the goodness, truth, and beauty displayed by the English language.

And now, onto tonight’s poem, titled, March Twenty-Seventh, Two Thousand and Twenty, after the date of Pope Francis’ Urbi et Orbi address.

Oh Master down within
The cellar of this boat
How soundly you remain 
A'slumber in the smoke

You do not seem to mind
How far we are from shore
For nothing stirs your head
Not screams, nor torrent roar

I cannot stay above
Much longer in this storm
The waves are crashing o'er
The deck's begun to burn

So I will run within
The cellar of this boat
Where still is heard the wind
And felt the sting of smoke

But here I see your eyes
E'en though they're tightly closed
I'll lean upon your breast
And trust you don't oppose

Oh Master of the depths
You hear me when I cry
But since you choose to sleep
In peace near you I'll lie

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