Mark 13-14

Poem – Back Row

Back Row

Malcolm Gordon

I take my seat at the back
Just inside the door
In case I need to escape
Or get asked to leave.
This has been my spot
On the days when I have come at all.
This is as close as I presume to come
Any closer would just be to pick a fight
With God or his guard dogs
And I can only guess they see me in the same light.

At least I did.

Was only a day or so ago
I heard a rabbi from up north
Say this whole place was coming down
That this place wasn’t worthy to be called holy at all
That it had sold its birthright
And become a hideout for hoodlums and crooks.
I confess I’d had my suspicions
Even from my seat in the back
I’d seen their temple robes grow finer every year
Even when the harvest failed
And there was scarcely enough to eat.
I don’t know that I’d shed many tears
To see this fall.

But where else is one to go
For God
For forgiveness
For hope.

Still I suspect I’ll not weep for long
And God can find me if he needs me
Not that I can think why he would
For one in the back row.

The rabbi didn’t stop at the temple either
No, he said the whole city was headed for a fall
It didn’t sound like a threat, and he took no joy in saying it
He just said it like it was the next stop
On the road we’d chosen to walk.

He said the sun would turn black
And the stars fall out of the sky
The earth would shake and kingdoms wage war and then fall.
It all sounds like the end of the world to me.

Call me a fool, but if it is
Maybe there’s a new one coming.
He made me think there might be.
That what crashed down might rise again.
But different this time.

While those on top aren’t likely to go without a fight.
I’ll not lose much sleep.
When you’re in the back row
Change can hardly make it worse.

So if this great edifice is about to topple over
No doubt there’ll be grief and death
Mine too I don’t doubt
But whoever makes it out of the wreckage
Out off the rubble when it has all crashed down on its side
May they find all people on one level
And God down here in the dust as well.
That’s my prayer from the back row.

And if this is all coming down
Then I have new appreciation for my seat by the door.
Last one in, first one out.
So I’ll keep an eye on the signs.
I can see most things from back here.

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