ABOVE THE BRIM
In the pit, I awaken, much to my horror,
Sameness before me, day after day,
Dark, bleak, cold as midnight,
The light far above me, distant, faint.
In this world where I linger and wait,
In the midst of such pain and such wailing,
Slowly stir, try to move, try to breathe,
But my body betrays me, seeks to fail me.
Crawl to my knees, dazed and in a haze,
Muster up the nerve to face the day ahead,
Cruel and unrelenting pass the hours before me,
I and my cellmates – barely alive, the walking dead.
My gaze once again falls upon them,
The ill, the suffering, the forgotten,
I have lived so long in the thick of this,
No escape, no release, hope wearing thin.
They beseech me to help, but what can I do?
No strength, little courage, few plans,
I stand on my feet and glance upward,
And yet again begin this macabre dance.
I long for the radiance shining downward,
Wonder why I was sentenced to this fate,
What crime or wrongdoing have I committed?
My answer – and my release – I await.
One last look at the masses which surround me,
Piteous souls lost in abandon and torment,
Grab onto the high walls of my prison,
And slowly, methodically, begin my ascent.
I clamber and cling and claw my way upward,
And gradually make a measure of weak progress,
Stumble backward, regain my footing, and continue,
Hoping this time for some minor success.
I remember with fondness my time above ground,
Days filled with love, laughter, and delight,
Nothing but joy and grand achievements,
But wait… something’s off… Is that right?
In my doubt, I look downward, uncertain,
Into the abyss of tattered, sorrowful souls,
Crying out for understanding, for assistance,
But I am one, and I struggle; I am not whole.
There are demons in the chasm, I am aware,
Ego, apathy, bitterness, hatred, and strife,
Cruel, skilled masters of chaos and abuse,
Who add nothing more than anguish to this life.
I am saddened but reminded I am powerless,
Cannot alter the others’ fates or their plights,
Cannot possibly face the monstrous hurdles,
So, once more, resume my climb to the light.
I am close to the summit I have longed for,
Near the top – salvation is in sight,
But it is not quite as I had imagined,
Not as I remembered – no, not quite alight.
At the brim, I peek over, expectant,
But the bright rays I envisioned are not there,
Is my memory mistaken, glossed over?
If not above me, beyond, then from where?
From below me, a low murmur escapes,
A soft voice from the depths, not above,
I hear Him quite clearly, no mistaking,
“It is a gift, not a punishment, my love.”
Not the words I anticipated or welcomed,
But true, and I knew it in an instant,
At the brim, closed my eyes and relented,
Released my grip and began my descent.
Falling into emptiness and blackness,
Ever downward till the bottom I reach,
The gravity and finality of my choice,
Weighing heavily upon me, I weep.
But as the tears fall wistfully and freely,
My eyes catch a glimmer, a soft flame,
In this black Hell of eternal damnation,
My heart and soul feel hopeful and ablaze.
For the illumination which grows ever brighter,
Is within me, all around me, it surrounds,
Never far from above as I imagined,
But a product of compassion so profound.
It lives among the lessers, the others,
And it grows ever-brighter in my soul,
When I let go of false remembrances and desires,
Accept the Truth which fulfills me, makes me whole.