You ember-eating, living thuribles
coughing a smoke heavy and holy
into the face of a wilderness
that turns away with twisted smile,

you aren’t nearly as alone
as the cold and failure
would beat you into believing.

There are many martyrs now:
history, the First Peoples,
the beavers, worn by old world money
to cheat its own cold and failure.

You aren’t jealous
in your reliquaries and deeper
resting places.
You never came as others did
to stake a claim
on pain and survive amply
on its royalties.
A Name not your own
brought you to the end
of one earth and the beginning
of another,
darker with all the tombs
of myriad martyrs
already mentioned
more and more.

You entered the temple
and tripped on the bustle
of sacrifice
that still prefigures so much
of subsequent industry.

You are not alone—
there are many martyrs now
and those who’ve read your hearts
know that envy is excluded
from your growing circle
of companions.

Greg Kennedy SJ is a Jesuit priest working as a spiritual director at the Ignatius Jesuit Centre in Guelph, Ontario. His prayer often takes the form of poetry. Care of creation is central to his vocation. His new book, Reupholstered Psalms: Ancient Songs Sung New, is now available for purchase.

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