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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

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.