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After Job 13:15

“Though He slay me, still will I trust Him,”

seems a rhetorical boast, easily made,

for who can comprehend this claim’s worth

when even at funerals, death remains abstract?

Yes, a tangible corpse lies stiff, dressed, and prone

in a woodcrafter’s pride, next hoisted

by dove-feigning fingers in soft cotton gloves

onto broad shoulders, who then carry this cross

out to the hearse, to the church, to the earth,

where, seed-like, it is planted,

expecting a glorious Spring-rise,

but these are effects, not the passing itself.

Does the soul feel anything during this procession?

Who can say? Our sensations are those of the living.

The centurion’s slave, when reanimated by Christ,

neglected to mention his terrors and joys

when his eyes, like candles, were snuffed out by last breath,

and nothing compelled his Savior to retell

His time down in Hell, let alone in High Heaven,

outside of weeping and gnashing, splendor and grace.

Even nihilists imagine an eternity devoid

of all sense, so small is their understanding of death.

Separation is the dagger that pierces in the dark,

that thorn in the flesh coaxing out this sharp wail

“Though He take my first love, still will I trust Him,”

fathoming the depths of devotion.

Nathaniel A. Schmidt holds a bachelor’s degree from Calvin College and a master’s degree from the University of Illinois, Springfield, both in English literature. His poetry has appeared in such journals as Windhover, The Penwood Review, D.S. Martin’s The 55 Project, and Time of Singing. Originally from the Chicago area, he lives in Rockford, Michigan, and teaches English at Spring Arbor University.

Image: Job Rebuked by His Friends, William Blake, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

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.