Shekinah Glory

A Poem to Which I Keep Returning

It is time for the evening service, and in the half-light the
church seems full of demons. This is the time of darkness and
feasts. The time for my revels. And my past returns.
‘And my sin is always before me.’
And while we recite the psalms, my memories intrude into the
prayer like radios and juke boxes. Old film scenes come back to me,
nightmares, solitary hours in hotels, dances, journeys, kisses, bars.
And forgotten faces appear. Sinister things. The assassinated
Somoza emerges from his mausoleum. (With Sihon, king of the
Amorites and Og, king of Bashan.) The lights of the ‘Copacabana’
are gleaming under the jetty in the black water that flows from the
sewers of Managua. Absurd conversations on drunken nights that
repeat and repeat themselves like scratched records. And the shouts
from the roulette wheels and the juke boxes.
‘And my sin is always before me.’
It is the time when lights shine from brothels and bars. Caiaphas’
house is full of people. The lights of the Somoza palace are switched
on. It is the time when the Councils of War meet and experts on
torture go down into the prisons. The time of secret police and
spies, when thieves and adulterers hover around the house and
corpses are hidden. A body falls into the water. It is the time when
the dying enter their final agony. The hour of sweat in the orchard
and the time of temptations. The first birds sing sadly outside,
calling out for the sun. It is the time of darkness. And the church is
freezing, as if full of demons, while we go on reciting the psalms in
the night.

Ernesto Cardenal


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