Rebecca K. Reynolds

Honest Company for the Journey

July 14

Yea, though I walk through the valley 

of my own defeat, Thou art with me.

What a strange and terrible fight it has been, my Lord.

Lying prone, 

bloody chin rests on bloody arm,

and I can only look round enough 

to see the casualties.

The corpse of myself

who tried to do all things properly—

who killed herself trying harder 

than anyone.

The corpse of myself 

who strained to believe all things properly—

who recited true creeds like false propaganda

and worked to assuage human doubt by human lies.

The corpse of myself

who attempted to feel what she did not feel—

who exercised brute will upon wild impulse

and lost.

The corpse of myself

who said she was not afraid when she was terrified,

who said she did not want when she was devoured by hunger,

who swore to be faithful while she was a double agent.

Bodies everywhere.

At last, I am slaughtered.

But You, Lord, are my shepherd, acquainted with the fool ways of sheep. 

You meet me in the valley of all I am not, 

where I am finally dead enough 

to tell You the truth at last.

Here in my defeat, 

the whole mess comes pouring out.

A child in convulsive tears,

broken stories come and come. 

I wipe a snotty nose on 

Your dress shirt

and try to find a breath through the cramp.

“The valley of the shadow of death,” 

You say, with soft levity.

Then, lifting me up, You carry me. 

I have always known this place— 

its name has always frightened me.

But it’s quiet and lovely here. 

Nobody told me how

in the twilly shadows

a light waits in the window

or that home sits at the edge 

of this black wood.

“The Good Shepherd” by Henry Ossawa Tanner

“The Good Shepherd” by Henry Ossawa Tanner