I write to you with joy and no regret
Although my hands are bound in Roman chain.
It’s quite beyond my power to explain
How Nero somehow hasn’t killed me yet.
The friends I once held dear I now rebuke,
Deserters all when my case came to trial.
Their faith was strong, but only for a while.
The only one still here with me is Luke.
But Timothy, my child, my Timothy,
By night and day I thank the Lord for you
And long to see you to complete my joy.
God’s gift is not one of timidity.
Fan into flame the Spirit ever-new
And preach the truth no power can destroy.
For me, the race is run, my life unwound
Slips through these iron fetters as if smoke.
The bonds of faith are now my only yoke.
The good news, though, cannot be chained or bound:
It startles with that light that overflowed
And blinded me on the Damascus road.
Jeffrey Essmann is an essayist and poet living in New York. His work has appeared in numerous magazines and literary journals, among them America Magazine, Dappled Things, the St. Austin Review and The Road Not Taken. He is a Benedictine oblate of Mt. Saviour Monastery.