A few days ago, after an intensive three-day burst of academic writing, I wrote this. I hope you enjoy it. 🙂
“In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michaelangelo.” – Eliot, “Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”
These words emerge without judgment,
Without the chapped feeling that skin has in winter.
No guilt spills out alongside blue-black ink,
For I have done my best to clarify, to polish,
To hew my thoughts into the stones of history.
Despite my name, I’m no Michaelangelo;
Though we were both touched by the seraph’s wing,
Our medium differs, in seed as well as fruit.
He sculpts with all the grandeur of the gods;
I write, my winged words pale shadows of their forms.
I won’t distort the envy that I feel:
At twenty-one, I couldn’t carve a stone,
Or use a chisel to reveal a face.
No rock-face spoke its ancient name to me.
Instead, I used my brazen words to obscure my point,
To dance around the edges of significance…
Some days and nights, I still perform that way.
More often, now, I feel a rush of bracing air,
Like frigid gales off frozen Baffin Bay,
As I can feel my pen impinge on truth.
Desire’s ancient onyx flame still stirs my soul
To point towards Reality with ink-stained hands.
I know that I’ll never sculpt a Hebrew warrior;
I feel that a lean gait that does not lope
Will forever vanish just beyond my eye.
That’s fine, because—just as the Lion says—
My story’s only ever told to me.
I will display my verdant purpose best
If I become myself. I cannot be another,
For these shortened limbs and scattered thoughts
Comprise my integrity, and waken in me
A desire for coherence, though not for unity.
I point towards the spires and buttresses
Of the great castle Diversity, in which all are stones.
I clamber over flying scaffolding
And scale its endless marble city walls;
I watch the living igneous rocks collide, combine,
And collect themselves into the columns of community.
Although my glasses are scratched and my hands still bleed,
Although I feel the wind blow through me with each step,
I will not yield to foe, fatigue, or fear.
My destiny is closer than I think,
Sitting at the curve of the road where I cannot see.
I feel the fullness of the living word that impels me;
I take my chisel and my hammer, and I tap away.
In hours, I may see an eye where none was there,
And in days, discern a graceful open ear.
I may not make the David, or even carve
A single bowl of grapes from sullen stones,
But what I make is worthy, for it’s mine.
It still reveals its gentle light to my waiting eye,
And sings its revelations to my sleeping thought.