Eleventh Hour

Too late to step aside from misery,
the lashes of experience endured
and struck again, before the flesh
begins to mend; too late for all the
yesterdays misspent — I turn to you, O God.

Too late to follow where you would have led,
to reconcile the enmity or raise the dead;
too late for sympathy to curb a spate of bitter
words that burn their way into the heart,
where they find tinder easy to convert to hate,
consuming everything that waited helplessly
to be redeemed.

Too late to do as Mother said, to eat my peas
and carrots and forswear ambrosia in the form
of Baby Ruth and Butterfinger meals instead
of sustenance that satisfies and nourishes
and heals.

Too late to save a penny for a rainy day, though
roiling clouds foretell tomorrow’s storm; too late to
scorn temptation, to reflect that what I spend on this
or that alluring bagatelle could purchase pleasure
more enduring and profound. Too late for wisdom
now to temper or forestall an ill-considered whim,
to mediate despair and mania. Too late to choose
a sane and reasoned course when seized by
circumstances daunting in their urgency. Too late
to save some candles for emergencies and their
peremptory demands.

Perversely born unwise and unprepared for life,
equipped with little but the instinct to survive
and with a physical response to stimuli, how is it
that, unreasoning, immobile, nearly blind, we human
creatures do not die upon the birthing bed?
It might be said, too early we emerge.

And yet the baby’s urge to eat and drink is fed;
her need for warmth is met; her incoherent cry
for something she cannot supply is heard.
She doesn’t wonder why, not then; she just
accepts the nourishment, and when her thirst
and hunger are assuaged, she sleeps with no
anxiety for all the days ahead, nor does she
lie awake and rue her lack of understanding
or her randomly expressed demands.

O God, I place my yesterdays and my tomorrows
in your hands.