Day after summer day he was crumpled on a wooden bench,
the dog day sky ignored above his arched neck,
eyes immured in his circling arms.
Ducks always waddle near the water’s edge and the pond
shines beneath a round sun.
Swings creak and the earth sings with little girls running.
The innocent air is full of flowers
and the ground thunders with the fearless sounds
that little boys make when they play.
The sod is always gold and green,
and sweet with the smell of fresh-cut grass.
But drowning in darkness,
his soul heard the groans of the stolen dead
and smelled the grisly reek of earth beneath his feet.
Gargoyles, devils, all demonic hounds
leaped and bounded in the dust before his face,
and baleful lights that spun above a sunken sun in midnight gyres,
and crashed across his eyes.
And then today, although the summer sun came round again
with children and indifferent ducks upon the pond,
his wooden bench sat bare and staring blindly at the afternoon.
And now, I think, the fire that always flashed before his face
has died to coals, and tender,
lets him lift his eyes to see that all-redeeming smile
upon the face of even one small child.