within my screen-in back porch—
a bright-billed Cardinal fed
her chirping and chirping juvenile chick,
who zoomed after her into a spruce.
Cicadas grated through summer dusk.
Behind closed eyes I whispered Abba maranatha
barely breathing for His voice
when a jumping spider’s
two huge glistening black eyes
and toxic fangs stared at me—
I blinked into rippling canopy,
the moon pin-cushioned by pine needles,
the face of my deepest fear
seared in memory staring…staring…
“I rebuke you, Liar, in Abba’s Name.”
It begins fading into pitch.
Descend to ascend.
YHWH pierces through flesh,
And shatters mental idols
in trackless sand.
Image becomes nothing. I am barren
as a vast, dark temple without shrines.
Thoughts flicker, then fade
Quiescence lights the void and then—
“Undistracted prayer is the highest act of the intellect.”
—Evagrius Ponticus, Chapters on Prayer, 34.
To sit still in light or dark, seeking neither,
eyelids tight as mussel shells
silence deep as a storm cellar
inner voices hushed
for a moment. Or two.
Mind’s eye blinks. The noonday demon stirs
the body’s temple into squirming,
curling and uncurling toes, tasting
that first wet kiss at the dark doorway,
then a shin furiously itches
until its skin is under fingernails.
You blink, exhale and try again.
A missionary befriended an Asian monk. He gave him to read Jacob’s ladder (Gen. 28:10-22) and the Greatest Commandment (Mt. 22:35-10). When the monk studied it, he replied “The bottom step is Jacob’s dream. The top step is the Greatest Commandment. These are the only two steps to heaven.”
The missionary replied, “Now you are enlightened.”
The author has written both free and metric verse for over fifty years. He a retired counselor and addiction clinician. He volunteers at a food pantry, seniors’ village, and prison camp. He wonders what’s beyond Vega? Email Peter at firstname.lastname@example.org.