The Common Good
November 2011

How Dare the Sun Ascend?

by Ken Sehested | November 2011

We all knew it would come.
Someday. Always later.
It comes for us all. Sure.
Of course.
We know that. Someday.

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But when someday draws near
for someone you love
whose silenced breath sears
your lungs with flames of grief
and sobs so immense
you wonder:
How dare the sun ascend?
The stars to shine?
Even the yeast to rise!

Who authorized the Earth to turn another inch?
Gravity itself should be suspended,
and the new moon halt in midair
with its ghostly light exposing
every predator’s stare.

All words—every syllable—fail and flail about
as if comfort answers to incantation,
as if death leaves no bruise,
as if sorrow can be shhushhed away like
crows from the cornfield.

Only flesh on flesh can convey
the pledge, to shivering hands and quivering hearts,
the implausible news that dust is not the end.
Only cheek to cheek,
and mingled tears,
chase back fears
to their perditious haunt.

For the soul come undone,
let skin speak to skin, with hands’
gentle brace of countenance consumed
in doleful, woeful recoil.
The dirge will
have its day,
the sigh will have its say.
But not more, not a minute
more, than its allotted time.

For the day lies in wait
when fear will be trumped,
every tear satiated, every
mournful lament yielding the floor
to the sound of angels clogging,
feet pounding parquet
in rhythmic cadence,
whirling and twirling,
with shouts of delight
and volleys of glee
by fiddle and banjo and bass.

The Caller of that dance
has been known
to raise
the dead.

Ken Sehested, author of In the Land of the Living, is co-pastor of Circle of Mercy Congregation in Asheville, North Carolina.

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