When the kitchen table becomes a confessional
and the combat with demons in the heart
hears conversation turn toward tired despair,
How many more years, Lord?; I’ve tried to overcome,

my spirit scrambles to defend motivation
by considering itself a hero
from Homer, say god-armored Achilles,
some mother’s son once immersed in immortal streams
who might famously vanquish the mightiest foes
with a blade whetted true upon the Word
and protected by a shield of faith,

but then I remember my mortal heel:
For all his triumphs, Achilles still fell.
Should I relinquish this fight and perish;
Is there any merit to my struggles?

I would have continued in such squalor
had not Priam’s son come to mind, noble Hector,
who fought willingly one who was stronger
(friendless, vengeful, man-killing Achilles)
knowing he would die before his city
believing it was better to receive glory in defeat
than to cowardly lounge in bowers seeking comfort

– and so as this narrative stimulates my nerves
I turn once again to my old adversary
before the grave makes an end of us both:
my fate already decided by the Divine.

Nathaniel A. Schmidt’s collection of poems An Evensong is available from Resource Publications, an imprint of Wipf & Stock. He is a student at Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan; and lives in Muskegon, Michigan.

Photo: Marie-Lan Nguyen, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

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