When the sky darkens with alabaster and mahogany——

Storm     and     woodsmoke,    and    the    swirling     gyres    of
unpredictability reign;

When the granite laws are brutally enacted;

When the judges  receive  the  verdict  from on high,  and,   as 
of old, close their ears to the truth;

When   the   soup   is meagre,  the  fruit of the vine  bitter   and

And  the  burden  of the cardinal  virtues  weighs heavily  upon
your shoulders—

When  the  balm   of   distance   recedes  before  your  steps   at

When  injurious  deeds  do  not  trouble the holders  of the iron

When the sunset blinds  the  eyes  with  blood  and  vengeance;

And   the   will    of   the    tyrant    is unrelenting—your     trials
descending upon your shoulders with the force of a storm that
rides upon the barbed, jagged hills:

In  those  hours,  my  brothers,  my sisters,   I  know  you  have
grown weary—

I know that even ancient words do not provide  solace for your
rocky path,

But  take  heart  in  the pale  light  that  flashes  over  the  dark

Steady your hearing to an inner music: wait with impatience——
wait with mercy.

Copyright © 2024 by Ellen Hinsey. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 25, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets.