At That Time

We had a swing on the porch
that would catch the breeze
from the river, an old, white,
wooden swing that hung by
chains from the blue ceiling.
It had soft, warm pads with
designs of shells and sails
on them, and it was where
Jesus like to sit, especially
in the early mornings when fish
jumped like quick crescent moons
that flashed and fell with a slap
of glittering spray. And at
the end of His day, too,
wherever He’d been and
whatever His work, He’d come,
and we’d all sit together on the porch,
the swing swaying slightly,
the younger children curled
against Him, the wind so moist
and cool it seemed we breathed
a strange bright water, all content,
all watching the setting sun,
the way it underlit the clouds
so they looked like embers,
their red glow shimmering
on the river, the swallows
flittering, the fireflies lighting
lamps in the hedges, the trees
darkening across the water.
Sometimes, someone
would hum a few bars
of an old song, and someone
among us always knew the words,
the children learning it new,
the old ones, perhaps, liking it most
but loving more to listen,
and the day going down that way.
Those were summers here.
For many years He’d come
and go, the way winds
and clouds and waves do,
their rhythms in Him,
and the look in His eyes
from watching them,
so that when He looked at you,
it was with their same gentleness,
unhidden, welcoming,
a quiet health and strength
you wanted in yourself,
so that you might be the same
for others, in the falling times,
and in winters to come.

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