Other Poems

Venite Adoremus (Come and Adore)

A poem for Advent

by Ken Sehested

I have given birth countless
Times, too many stillborn
And breathless, despite
Conception in the
Throes of passion and
Patient preparation. Restless
Nights and nauseous days
And stretch marks
Amniotic fluid securing watery
Life, waiting, kicking
Kicking and waiting
Anxious about that
Birth canal’s tumultuous ride
And leaky breasts
Until then, waiting, kicking
Kicking and waiting
Waddling stride
Provoking curious stares
Down Broadway in
Manhattan and
Comments from strangers
On the bus, a complete stranger
Saying, I bet it’s a girl
No, says another across
The aisle, she’s carrying
High, it’s a boy, with unseen
Choired angels arrayed
testing their pitch:
Venite adoremus!
Come and adore!

Who are these people? Why
Didn’t I ask for phone numbers
And maybe recipes? But they
Barrel on past my stop to
Where I wish I knew. Who is
Waiting for them, I wonder, like
Those truckers I notice rumbling
On up the interstate when I exit
For gas and a pee, no need for
My company, four-wheelers
Just get in the way

How far have you been
Today? I want to ask
How far are you going? Who
Did you leave behind?
And who’s expecting you home
For supper and maybe
A little foreplay? At how
Many weigh stations
Have you caught a nap? How
Many amphetamines
With a coffee chaser?
Careful, lane closed ahead
And some fool in an aging
Skylark thinks he can jump
The line. How long must
Shaving drive-time pad
Your paycheck?

Back on the Broadway
Bus: Would that every
Harbinger of new life
Had such power to soften
Calloused eyes, disarm
Suspicion, open avenues of
Conversation and familial
Approach between those with
No calculation, no stalkers, no
Chance of profit from the
Encounter.
Venite adoremus!
Truckers would trade a
Tailwind for such
Encounters. Surely there’s
More to life than the load

Back to my projects: Not
Children, exactly, though
Something like that, each with
Distinctive histories, names, even
And aspirations, so many that
I’ve forgotten more than
I know. You get used to
Stillbirth or you drown in
Tears. Sometimes, like
Tonight, I would prefer
That drowning, but that’s
Just the endorphin shortage
Talking, and lament’s
Communion with brother
Jack Daniel

Let’s just sleep on it
And trust the daybreak’s
Rise to bring more
Light than heat
If saying your prayers
Is an obstacle to
Prayer, cut it out (as
Bro. Merton advised)
Anyway, I’m too transparent
To go fooling any
Heavenly host or another
Hell, I publish books
As a hobby
Stocking stuffers, Amazon
Resellers for pennies
A page. If a fool I am
Let me not be suffered
But give me a
Wall to build stretching
To every sunrise’s horizon
For the sheer beauty
Of assembled stones
Of channeling gravity
To welcome every riprap
Rock’s homely shape.
Venite adoremus!

There are no
Disingenuous stones, nor
Do they preen for
Attention. They have
Learned patience over
The eons, like the
18-wheelers up the
Long stretch of
I-25 miles of northern
New Mexico, Cherette Mesa
Out the port side
Just up from Wagon Mound
And countless other
Sentries in the Land of
Enchantment outlined by
Full moon, the night sky
Sprayed with falling
Stars*, though none of
Them, as yet, displaying the
Signs of Salvation’s advance

I want that
Equanimity in the
Face of history’s
Pileups and projects’
Ruin. Some of those
Bus patrons in
Manhattan and
Highway cowboys
Headed north on I-25
Want it, too, at least
As far as Washington
Heights (for the former)
Where you have
To transfer, or Buffalo
Wyoming (for the latter)
Where you have
To pick another number
I’ll bet lovers there
Suffer stillborns, too, and
Dreamers who believe
Another world is not
Only possible but
Promised as well
Living to tell about it
In splendiferous oblation
Venite adoremus!
While semis jake brake into
Town, maybe pick up
The winning lottery
Ticket with their diesel
And a shower, maybe pie
Too. No Doubt they have
Projects as well, named
Or unnumbered and tears
Enough to spare

When will death’s destiny
Be sealed in its grave?
Whence come the signs*
Displayed by sun and moon
And stars and all earth’s
Distress, heaven itself
Shaking from the salvos
Launched as the empire’s
Rage against every
Economy off grace?
Foretell the promised
Arrival, marked by might
Perfected in mercy
Bridling the clouds with
Exaltation of the One
Whose embrace shelters
Every failed project, every
Homely rock’s shape, soothing
Every creature’s grief, every
Tear’s salty sting.

Hail, Mary, full of grace
Fearlessly staring shame
Back to perdition and
Welcoming resurrection
From the grave, be with
us now and at the
Hour of our death
Let earth’s habitation
Take its stand, all heads
Raised, scouring the
Horizons of sight and sound
For hints of Redemption’s
Disclosure. Venite, venite,
Venite adoremus!
O come, O come, O come
Let us adore!

*cf, Luke 21:25-36

©Ken Sehested @ prayerandpolitiks.org