When I became a soldier of the Lord,
With the oil and slap of Confirmation,
I received the invisible broadsword,
Breastplate and gauntlets, visor, greaves and helm,
That made me defender of a nation
Which hordes of devils seek to overwhelm.
What dignity for a boy of thirteen
To join such ranks as St. Michael once led
In the War in Heaven. I sat between
A boy who fainted and one who sneered
At the figure before us as it bled
From crown to toe, and all the devils leered.
That was then. But as Heaven would allow
Those boys to live, I sit between them now,
Knowing the fear of one, the other’s spite
At hovering between the dark and light.
This calls for wisdom. The soldier who speared
The side of Christ lives now inside my head,
Grappling with epiphany. Where he feared
Only Caesar, he now finds the water
Joined with blood commanding in his stead,
And recalls the tale of the patron’s daughter
And the comrade’s servant who walked again.
He is a murderer and yet believes,
And from this moment will his life begin,
Though drifting outward to legend’s far fringe,
Until he is the one who gently laves
the Lord’s spent body with the Holy Sponge.
All blessings on the one whose spirit turns
In time, whose lantern flares and ever burns.
But in my heart, a fear mixed in with grief:
The soul beyond rescue. The other thief.