Then I looked, and I saw a hand stretched out to me. In it was a scroll,
which he unrolled before me. On both sides of it were written words
of lament and mourning and woe . . . . Then he said to me,
“Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.”
So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.
Ezekiel 2:9-10; 3:3
I took the little scroll from the angel’s hand and ate it.
Sleepless and long past midnight,
I pour another glass of red wine
without a trace of guilt for drinking alone
and from my desk look into darkness
where a solitary point of light
from someone’s TV across the street
flickers blue-glow through the night
reminding me of my throbbing joints
that complain of the hard work of holding
all the pieces together, an effort I respect.
These are the hours we are warned about,
the dark night of the soul, when hollow doubt
most likes to drip into the sentient mind;
but tonight I have Hopkins and his sonnets,
words so delicious I could eat them and I think
of Ezekiel who once ate a book filled
with lament and mourning and woe he said tasted
as sweet as honey, Jeremiah too, and John the Apostle;
they all ate books, but I am no prophet.
The sweet taste of lamentation
is just one more paradox to try to digest
and eventually one begins to beg for clarity,
a sign even. I turn again to Hopkins,
who was a prophet, and wait for
the angel’s hand.
James Green has published four chapbooks of poetry. His most recent, Long Journey Home, was the winner of the 2019 Charles Dickson Chapbook Contest sponsored by the Georgia Poetry Society. His individual poems have appeared in literary magazines in Ireland, the UK, and the U.S. Formerly a university professor and administrator, he is now retired and resides in Muncie, Indiana. To learn more about James and his poetry, visit his website at www.jamesgreenpoetry.net.