One Morning Along the Louisville Riverwalk

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the wood* of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the wood* are for the healing of the nations.

Revelation 22:1-2

Baked by the morning sun from without and cirrhosis from within
A wirey-haired homeless man sits mumbling under
A poplar’s shade on a Riverwalk park bench overlooking the Ohio.
Carrying on in the company of conversant phantoms,
He sits without home or health mumbling and
Medicating memories with a paper-bagged, 24 oz, can.

As I power-walk past, I wonder if
His loitering is a lazy diffidence or
The patient defiance of desperation?
Is this mad man stoically waiting
For the Cosmic transubstantiation of self and park?

And if he isn’t, will he be shown the New–
A revitalization which reclaims from
The edge of bewilderment and neglect a
Park where the retreating and harried are
Welcomed and homed among the wood and water
Rather than driven to the fringes of public view?

In that day, the longing and lazy
Will give way to the lounging and leisure
Of regality and rule.
And from that park’s wood will fall
Fruit and healing blown by
The Gentle Wind to those lying in
The shade along That river’s walk.

In that day, I hope I see this man, Seated
On a bench overlooking the River-torrent of
Purity and Life flowing from the God-throne–
Unphantomed and no longer weary, but
Being baked again,
…not by the unmaking cloud of addiction and alienation,
But but by the ever-Presence and Dawn
Of the Palingenetor.

*The word which is translated in the NIV as “tree” (zulon) may also be translated as a collective singular. It is my opinion that “wood” serves a better translation.

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