All Saints

by Paul Hooker

We feebly struggle; they in glory shine.
“For All the Saints” – William Walsham How

…Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
“Ozymandias” – Percy Bysshe Shelley

It is too glib to promise glory;
saints are not made to shine.
Were they exempt, immune
to primal urges, nagging fears
that hound us on the road to pain?

Overcame, then; resisting all temptation,
running the race, staying the course,
keeping the faith, holding onto hope…?
Insipid metaphors, one and all,
false as fool’s gold glittering in streams.
These days, even gold reverts to dross
in the alchemy of the evening news.

Confessed, received forgiveness, started new
with slate wiped clean of stain and story?
No one leaves the past behind; it lives
and peers through every windowpane,
and knocks each night at the door of dreams.

Who sees a wildflower in a field of weeds
and rejoices just because it grows there,
who hears a laughing child
and is glad of happiness, even though in sorrow,
who witnesses beauty
and does not yearn to grasp it with soiled hands,
who speaks a quiet truth
and has no need of congratulation–
these are the saints.
The ones who leave no trace.