You have loved to watch the sun
Burst from her chamber
Like a horse from the stall
After a long dark night
Where horses sprung from the hills
When God made the earth and said
It is good.
You have loved to see the birds
Begin their morning ruckus, oblivious
Of the watching man
From the hard earth below
The pigeons he raised once on corn
Stolen from the distillery train:
Rollers, Fantails, Homers, Racers.
You have loved roses and waltzing
And the girl with the pretty legs
Who didn’t know you
But said she would take care
Of you always.
And she did, what’s more,
As if you were the first couple
And faithfulness was all there was.
You have loved to see your children
Have children who have children.
One baby you held longest
Because she came last.
After long years of frustrating work
Was this child with your quick temper.
The best years, saved for last.
You have loved to hear the rain
come down, good and strong
from your sickbed. Happy,
that some work’s getting done.
by the sound and the thought:
Couldn’t go outside anyway now
Everything’ll be alright.
You have loved living the days.
It is enough, Old Man, to be.
Long years of ambition have led to this:
A satisfied heart. Not whole,
Still waking-up to watch the sun
Burst from her stall in Kentucky.
Still trusting in the God who said
It is good.
Foolish generation who cannot see
Past the end of their pale noses
To the light on the bluegrass
Rising in triumph and hope
No matter the pain, it is true:
It takes life to love life.
Only God has the right to say
It is finished.
This month, we will celebrate the 84th birthday of my grandfather, who is one of my dearest friends. My gift to him will be new suspenders, so this Norman Rockwell picture is a perfect illustration for my poem, in more ways than one.
I came to you yesterday,
into your bedroom where you lay.
It was early morning-
your favorite time of day.
You are dying. Slowly, yes.
The doctors run tests.
And find nothing wrong.
Is there no word for this?
This ending of days?
This withering phase?
You talk to me.
Oh thank the Lord.
Your words still flow so free.
When the cord is snapped,
and you wake in eternity
there will be talk,
Just not for you and me.
This is what I will miss.
I was born to be your friend.
And there are words to speak
before the end,
when you leave
and I stumble on.
There will be lots to say
On that glorious day
when I come.
“Gather round, ye children, come! Listen to the old, old story of the power of death undone, by an Infant born of Glory: Son of God, Son of Man….”
“Rank on rank, the host of heaven stream before him on the way,
as the Light of Light, descending from the realms of endless day,
comes, the powers of hell to vanquish, as the darkness clears away.”
“Long lay the world in sin and e’er pining
‘Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.”
“I am doing a new thing and soon you will see
I am coming among you and my name shall be
“All glory be to God on high and to the earth be peace.
Goodwill henceforth from God to man begin and never cease.”
“No more let sins and sorrows grow, Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found…”
“O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.”
“Gather Round Ye Children Come”(Andrew Peterson), “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence”, “Oh Holy Night”, “I Will Find A Way” (Andy Gullahorn), “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night”, “Joy to the World”, “O Come All Ye Faithful”