By Oz Cole-Arnal, former professor emeritus at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary
*Note: this is the third installment of poems from Professor Cole-Arnal’s recent memoir work. “Come the Dawn” was written in Feb 1981, shortly after almost succumbing to an illicit affair in France during May-June (1980). These words mark his attempt to remember his marital promises and his continual love for wife Marian (“Bunny”). It is also critical to remember that this poetry included a third party: his therapist Andy Coppolino with whom they were wrestling with his nocturnal dreams.
A howl of pain piercing the night,
Wide awake, the only sound a heartbeat,
The discovery of mortality, alone, deeply alone,
Wrapped in darkness and afraid
–Before the dawn.
My fingers tremble, thoughts tumble over each other,
Rushing fragments of failed dreams beyond my grasp,
Tired by it all, troubled to my core,
Thoughts fall into place, tears down the channels of my face
–And then the dawn.
A chance to wipe the slate clean,
To put the pat behind me and flee to innocence,
The pretense of novelty on treadmills and circles,
There is nothing new under the sun,
–Again and again the dawn.
No, not a victim of wheels,
Driven can become driver
With each stumbling forward,
Eyes daring to see; hands yearning to reach
–Toward the dawn.
The need to pause and wait,
To touch and hear the wind
A receptacle; a waiting embrace,
Eyes toward the horizon, letting go
–And awaiting the dawn.
Alone, yet part of it all,
Husband and lover; father and friend,
Defined by others, while giving them names,
Spinning visions and holding their hands
–To catch the dawn.
I enter you after the dawn,
Love’s powerful call to begin again,
The rising and falling of many dawns,
Older and wiser now and living in
–The full light of day.