by Kenneth Godoy
Drawn onward to God
as onward to Goodness,
the child, who rejected
his father now returns home,
and this is inevitable: for
the shivering fish that drowns
in thin air must return, must
return to the stream; or the fire
that needs to consume must
be fed lest it die, lest it wane.
Drawn downward and onward
to God. (2) Am I to blame, then
for the sins of my innocence?
The sins that writhe beyond
memory’s reach? Is the child a
slave to the cycles of sinning?
Is the man he becomes a debtor
from birth to the sin and the sinning?
Am I ashamed of my childhood?
Or am I condemned for having been born?
The fire has no fingers to feed on its own
and the fish has no feet and no will
to come from the river and go. The
son has no choice but to sin and
come crawling, come crawling again,
sucking his knuckles and pleading
and screaming and weeping,
give me this rest, grant me that peace.
I am that fish, that fire,
that unending son who
always returns and in
and kisses the father,
the (3) black, sweet goodness
of not having been born.
From the poet:
This poem was inspired by the reading of Augustine’s Confessions, a book wherein Augustine attempts to understand his past by diagnosing himself as sinful from birth. But sin is an evil action produced in free will, the same way that worship is a good produced in free will. If free will is taken away, then sin or any action a human being does is not truly and freely his or her own; rather, humans become buffeted and controlled by God, who chooses for them to be born in sin until ultimately (if He chooses) God draws the child back to himself and thereby saves the child of sin. While Augustine did admit blame for the sins of his youth, yet inevitably, I believe the full extent of his teaching leads humans to believe that they were only born in sin and had no choice in the matter. The voice of this poem is essentially a response to the view that humans are born with original sin, showing that if I were drawn to God without my free will, my worship would not be genuine before God, because it would be robotic.
Of his writing, Kenneth Godoy says, “Poetry is bound to my soul.”
Photography by Kenneth Godoy