An Ode to Marcus Aurelius
|At the Break of Dawn: An Ode to Marcus Aurelius
By James Van Roosmalen
In the morn’, when I am first awoken I am also not awake.
I am huddled under blankets that hold me snuggly in the space in which I lay;
with my tire unfettered by my rest’s break –
by the birth of the light of day.
My comfort and my tire hold me tightly –
like the universe holds a star.
I feel the sun yet not its warmth and though the world around me is against my skin it’s as if it’s out of reach.
I am tired. My head is heavy.
My eyes are weary.
I go back to sleep.
I fade away... into the deep...
into my pillow; its softness sweet.
Time rolls by yet only on the spot... forever.
Forever it does do so in my slumber until it does no longer.
When forever turns unto for nevermore –
and from my brief return into unconscious infinity –
I come back to the world around me –
with the sun’s bright light upon my face.
Its rays leave the trace –
of their reality in the warmth I did not feel before –
in moments of both youth and yore.
My eyes burn –
like the longing in my heart of which does fondly yearn –
to stay –
and sleep away the day.
My lungs heave to make my sigh –
as I try to find the reasons why –
I shan’t fall back to sleep.
What is it that drives a person with no self-worth to carry out acts as if they have it?
What is there to live for if not oneself or those of whom are nigh to them?
What reason shall I have to live? What purpose shall I find?
If it is true that there’s no value in my life is there still value in my mind?
If I see value in my mind is there value there for others?
Is there value to my brothers?
To my sisters?
To their fathers and their mothers?
Do I value others?
Yes, I do.
Then why do I still lay here in the light under the blankets?
Can I not see that it is the light and not the dark in which I lay? Can I not see that I must rise?
Can I not see that I must not be what I despise?
It is the light in which I lay –
and the time for sleep has passed away.
Yesterday is not today and today lasts only ‘til the ‘morrow.
The night is gone. The sun has come and so with it the day has too.
Tomorrow is looming ever closer and today moves more yonder still.
Can I not see that I must do my duty –
as a part of this society –
to contribute to all the beauty –
that gives us all hope for humanity?
I must throw back the curtains of the portal to my dreamland and get up, let on, and do what I am meant to do.
For the sun has come and the day has too.
So, I get up.
I let on.
I do what I am meant to do.
For my sisters and my brothers.
For their fathers and their mothers.
Yet I am human... and a human is to be so accurately likened to a star –
beautiful from afar,
dangerous when too close,
and a mother of all that gives reason to live when from one we are neither too near nor too far.
If I am to do only good then I must not be too close to myself or any other –
lest like a candle when it needn’t serve its use, all the good I do, I may smother.
If I am to inspire another –
a sister or a brother –
their mother or their father –
I must be entangled, never.
Yet I am human... and a human is to be so accurately likened to a star.
I am human and like a star, I want to burn.
I want to blaze.
I want to feel the love in another’s gaze.
I want to hate all of those whom make my blood boil and churn –
and cry the rivers of my every pain –
until the salt in my eyes leaves their stain –
in reddened vein after vein –
upon the surface of my eye.
I am human.
If pushed just far enough I’m afeared I just might steal, and cheat, and lie.
Such shame there is in wanting what I want when it does naught but ill.
I am human. Not ever truly good nor evil but a seeker to be seen as only ever the one.
For the good are good in the eyes of the good –
and the evil not anything but the doers of what it is that the good –
do not think that they should do.
So, what is it that I must do today?
What is it that I should have done yesterday –
that I should want to do tomorrow?
If today is all I have and the ‘morrow never comes:
when the light of day has died away and all the light of the night is out –
what will make me content when I close my eyes and fall asleep from ponder deep to pass into that eternal unknown?
What kind of past doings shall nurse me into that greatest ‘then’ of all –
as a mother’s voice would a crying child in the gentlest manner of tone.
What is it I should do before I am, into that greatest ‘then’; that eternal unknown, to fall?
If when that ‘then’ occurs, and ‘then’ is today –
if yesterday has anything to say –
and my regrets are raised before my eyes on display –
what must I do today?
What must I do today to keep regret at bay?
I think I know what I should have done yesterday.
I must have tried –
harder than any other day before –
with more tenacity than any day of yore.
I must have tried.
I must have tried –
as obsessively as an honest lawman follows the law –
like the greedy wants more –
like a lover does adore –
like a warrior hero is defined by war.
I must have tried.
I must have… at the very least risen –
from my slumber like the sun –
at the break of dawn.