Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

The Better Part of Valor

Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

The Better Part of Valor

Article excerpt

A would-be body-surfer, eight years old,

he fell in with the ocean's mood of calm,

reviewing each low swell as it unrolled

before him its obsequious salaam.

Crossing the fringe of foam with splashing stride,

he found himself knee-deep, waist-deep, and still

nothing swung by worth joining for a ride.

Level and lazy lay the sea. Until

the chastening wave upreared a glassy face,

its towering onset tugging up his eyes

to see it beetling. He was locked in place,

discovering how doom can paralyze.

Punitive pounding, surging overthrow,

churning immersion, brackish aftermath,

it was embarrassing to undergo.

The water was as placid as a bath

after this one leviathan hit land,

leaving him for a time to drip and look

daggers at where he'd been from safe on sand. …

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