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Through the Water

He must in some way cross or dive under the water, which is the most ancient symbol of the barrier between two worlds
-Yvor Winters

Far back within the mansion of our thought
   We glimpse a lintel with a door that’s shut,
And through which all our lives would seem to lead
   Though we feel powerless to say toward what.
It is the place where all the shapes we know
   Give way to whispers and a gnawing gut.

And so, in childhood, we duck beneath
   The waterfall into a hidden cove;
In summer, pass within a stand of pines
   Cut off from those bright fields in which we rove,
Whose needles lay a softening bed of silence,
   Whose great boughs tightly weave a sacred grove.

When winter settles in, and our skies darken,
   We take a trampled path by pond and wood,
And find beneath an arch of slumbering thorn
   Stray tufts of fur, a skull stripped of its hood,
Then turn and look down through the thickening ice
   In wonder at the strangeness of the good.

And Peter, Peter, falling through that plane,
   Where he had only cast his nets before,
And where Behemoth stalked in darkest depths
   That sank and sank as if there were no floor,
He cried out to the wind and felt a hand
   That clutched and bore his weight back to the shore.

We know that we must fall into such waters,
   Must lose ourselves within their breathless power,
Until we are raised up, hair drenched, eyes stinging,
   By one who says to us that, from this hour,
We have passed through, were dead but have returned,
   And are a new creation come to flower.

This poem was originally published in Unleash the Gospel Magazine by the Archdiocese of Detroit.