POETRY: The Reader, by Thomas Merton

the reader

Lord, when the clock strikes
Telling the time with cold tin
And I sit hooded in this lectern

Waiting for the monks to come
I see the red cheeses, and bowls
All smile with milk in ranks upon their tables.

Light fills my proper globe
(I have won light to read by
With a little, tinkling chain)

And the monks come down the cloister
With robes as voluble as water.
I do not see them but I hear their waves.

It is winter, and my hands prepare
To turn the pages of the saints:
And to the trees thy moon has frozen
on the windows
My tongue shall sing thy Scripture.

Then the monks pause upon the step
(With me here in this lectern
And thee there on thy crucifix)
And gather little pearls of water
on their fingers’ ends.
Smaller than this my psalm.


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