I woke early in the fog
to take out the garbage at the church.
My sons sprung up with me
while it was still dark.
I grimaced and made coffee.
The aroma of toasted waffles,
the cheap kind, made with buttermilk,
mingled with the cloying scent of children’s vitamins
as I opened their lid.
Before morning prayer,
I fill empty stomachs
and do my best to make banter, crusty.
The morning is cool and dark
with light diffused, deadened by cloud.
I’m in the chapel now,
readying myself to pray.
I love this aloneness.
The quiet before the day.
I think about God and life
and worry about my failures.
It’s so easy for me to deceive myself.
TO LIVE IN PEACE
I hiss fry eggs in my heavy cast iron.
Not hungry, I eat,
though my bowels feel blown up like balloons.
I always feel them inside of me,
pressing, reminding me of the ugliness and filth of excrement.
Looking in the mirror is a relief,
while I brush my teeth.
I’m tired, haggard, even,
but my face is still mine, still human,
still placid, despite the pit-of-stomach dread.
I’ve long abandoned the hope prayer in these situations
Like beads rubbing a groove in my brain,
my prayers never get below the surface.
I say them faithfully.
Each day I force myself out of the door,
like a diver off of the edge of a cliff.
I know nothing of the bottom,
only the terror of the fall.
COLE HARTIN is an Anglican priest serving in Saint John, NB, where he lives with his wife, their sons, and a sad cat. He has a Ph.D. in theological studies.
Copyright © 2020 by Cole Hartin. All rights reserved.