Containing the Night Thoughts of a Sexagenarian

It is this heavenly tale, that the child in one could wish for, that
keeps me awake tonight, on the eve of my sixtieth year,
fearing death and wishing for grace, not knowing what
either is, or even if either is, though the unbreathing
stillness of bodies has me fairly convinced of the
former, and of the latter I have seen so little as to
doubt what I have seen as aberrant, some twist in the
air and light that, so full of desire for the magic of
exemption, I have deluded myself, half knowing
I lied, half believing my own white lie. But by
sixty I’ve come to believe that the only grace
is the goodness of the rational mind, and the
only evil the old instinctive animal brain, the
knob of the cerebellum, seeking its own satis-
factions of food and sex and selfhood, the
ultimate isolate one, that yet does not
understand that we are together in this
flowing, amazing hologram, with
or without a creator that may or
may not care; that, come alive, we
have every right to judge the nature
of existence, for, however arrived
at, our brains are analytic, not made
to hunker down in obeisance to
riddling gods, nor to any phantom
that hides in a cloud of unknowing.
For we have one another and have
courage and the hope of courage
and the practice of courage,
to help us, and, when the
wind is calm, and
the waters lean down
for the moon, we have
lonely senses to share till
at last our time has run out. Now,
as I think in the night, somewhat afraid
of the day that will see me another year older and
that much closer to death, I mark the speed of time
that has seen me, a moment ago, a child walking home from
school, or a man going off to harm’s way, or this or that or the
other, and think of these things that we have, of others and courage
and love, of human intelligence used as it plainly was meant to be
used, and I think that I’ll sleep and awaken less anxious than I was
considering a heavenly tale, for in the realist reality, the closest
thing to the truth, there is finally a peace of mind that is a grace in a
sweet surrender. It is the heavenly tale that the child in one should
wish for. It will allow me to sleep in the night of my sixtieth year.

About E.M. Schorb

E.M. Schorb has published several collections of poetry. Time and Fevers is a 2007 recipient of an Eric Hoffer Award for Excellence in Independent Publishing. Another collection, Murderer's Day, was awarded the Verna Emery Poetry Prize and published by Purdue University Press. His poetry has appeared in: The Sewanee Review, Southwest Review, The Yale Review, The Chicago Review, Carolina Quarterly, The Virginia Quarterly Review, The American Scholar, Stand (England), and the New York Quarterly, among others. And, I’m happy to add, The Eloquent Atheist.


Urn — 2 Comments

Leave a Reply