This Bitter Shore

On a calm gray morning
we stand for a while on this low hill,
an ocean of winter wheat spilling its green waves
across the rolling fields to the south and east.

Beyond the shadows of old cedars and an ancient elm,
we walk across spongy ground to the few chairs
set in line before a tiny white casket
resting on plywood above the waiting earth.

Quentin’s unbreathing birth the week before
has torn a hole into our lives,
less than two weeks short of a full nine months
of hopes and plans and the joyful works of preparation.

I stand as preacher–fearing the short reach of my words–
and speak of pain and loss, the sometimes awful costs
of life and love in this world of sun and storms,
unformed reasons and seasons of joy and grief.

While hundreds of others offer up prayers elsewhere,
we add one more to theirs,
a small sharing of anguish here on this bitter shore
where the tides bring in and carry out,

here where sand and stone mark both hope and doubt.

Exactly a week beyond Passover’s dark loss,
we meet here amidst acres of granite-marked memories,
at the carved-pain intersection of life and loss,
where we weep and grieve with sometimes heaving shoulders.

We move through such times as this,
torn by the broken-bone ache of shattered hopes,
the unflinching love of blood and kin,
an exasperating longing for explanation,

mourning our way to hope
while we wait
for the promise of resurrection
in a cloudless sky.

H. Arnett

About Doc Arnett

Native of southwestern Kentucky currently living in Ark City, Kansas, with my wife of twenty-nine years, Randa. We have, between us, eight children and twenty-eight grandkids. We enjoy singing, worship, remodeling and travel.
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