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The breeze is brisk like a crisp cup of water
    as I drink in sunlight on the Sabbath,
a Latin cigar gifting its peppery smoke
    before my Danish-carved pipe cradles Latakian leaves –
and my wife joins me to indulge in aged comte
    paired with sweetness from apricots and dates.
Together we recite the poems of Borges
    while sipping whiskeys and citrusy ales –
and as our tongues savor each subtle taste
    I feel grateful for this pleasurable rest.
Throughout the work week, I sit with people in pain
    as their chaplain, my ears gulping the gall of suffering,
although unlike Christ, I can’t empty this chalice,
    my soul needing seasons not just to weep, but feast;
a wisdom I learned from a man in hospital,
    mid-50’s, but with a 4-year-old mind,
Life a seemingly sad prison of confusion
    as he smears feces on the wall in his sickness
and yet he smiles when he names his favorite thing:
     lunch – mac-n-cheese, a large soda, and curly fries.
He helps me to see that what we call “fine”
     is relative to what we have received,
our experiences of want letting us value joy,
     and strangely, my thoughts turn to communion,
how Heaven sets a table for our starving hearts
     with impoverished bread and the wine of God.

Photo by Joshua Bartell on Unsplash

Nathaniel A. Schmidt

Nathaniel A. Schmidt is a chaplain in the Christian Reformed Church and holds degrees from Calvin Theological Seminary, Calvin University, and The University of Illinois, Springfield. His first collection of poems, An Evensong, is available from Wipf and Stock. He lives with his librarian wife, Lydia, and their daughter in Norton Shores, MI, meaning life is a perpetual story-time.

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