Uncertain hour

Read this first. Don’t think. Just read.
#1357, version II, c. 1876

“Faithful to the end” Amended
From the Heavenly clause —
Lucrative indeed the offer
But the Heart withdraws —

“I will give” the base Proviso —
Spare your “Crown of Life” —
Those it fits, too fair to wear it —
Try it on Yourself—

Today brings a strange poem on a strange morning on the heels of a strange dream. Also there was a penumbral Lunar eclipse this morning. Not visible in our hemisphere but felt.

Dark skies pour down rain, an acute departure from the over-bright, baking hot days of the past month. This morning feels like another continent and season. Suddenly it is cool September and we are getting ready for school. Or a journey. This dark rainy sky sends a disruption to the unchanging suffocation of the summer. Nothing really stays the same. The sky tells us so.

Meanwhile the moon winks out and back in again. Just when you think you know what life holds, something changes.

In the dream, I dive head first into the bay behind the house in New Jersey where I grew up. The blue-green water is cool and opaque and accepts me perfectly. I float on the surface of the water without effort. This is my salt bay. I ask if it’s safe for kids to swim unsupervised. Someone answers, “Well, they have swimming lessons first.”

Emily’s addition to this stormy morning leaves me nearly bereft of words. Her voice is bitter: “The heart withdraws.” “Try it on yourself.” Take your promises, your crowns, your so-called faith. I have other business. She turns away from the easy answers. There is something else. Something beneath the opaque surface of the water. Some other answer that lies below words, below the air.

That closing couplet is such a sharp rebuke. Those who really deserve the crown of life—by that I mean those who truly rise up and fill the outlines of their own destiny, their character—they have no need to wear a crown or capture a reward. They are squeezing the juice from their own lives now, while they live it. Promises are for the uncertain among us, the weaklings who are afraid to jump in the bay and dive deep.

And those wavering between the certain and the uncertain, the scribes and poets with a toe on each side . . . On some mornings, they may do nothing at all but float on the surface, sensing the depths, the words caught in their throats, stopped before they appear.

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