The story behind the piece: This one came from a 1998 Writing Project event; I can’t remember the details, except it was on a Saturday. Right before one of the writing sessions, a friend had told me of about an acquaintance, a minister, whose wife was paralyzed and whose daughter was killed in a car accident. That’s all I could think about when they turned us loose to pre-write, and this piece came from that exercise. I recall our pre-writing involved walking the Sacred Heart grounds and finding some objects to bring back in our pockets. I picked up a rock or two from the driveway. The rocks plus the burden of the minister’s tragedy just related evoked what you read below. I got this piece published in an online Little Magazine a year or two after I wrote it, but I can’t even remember the name of the publication or the URL. So I lost publication out there somewhere in CyberSpace . . . until now! The influence of the Christian hymn “Nearer, my God to Thee” featured in the movie Titanic is unmistakable in the piece.
Composed at Sacred Heart, Grand Coteau, St. Landry Parish, Louisiana
By David L. Pulling
Where is my child, my precious child?
Have the ruthless jaws of untimely death devoured her,
And snatched away the bright promise of youth?
Where is my mate, my lover?
How she lies, still and helpless.
Will this once supple, sensuous flesh
Never more come warmly to me
In the softness of the night?
Is there a balm in Gilead?
Does faith dare look up to thee?
Does blessed assurance cover me?
Or am I ruled by damned uncertainty?
I stand on holy ground,
Strewn with rocks
Like stony griefs
That bruise my soul.
Lord, may I, like Jacob,
Gather such rocks,
Such stony griefs,
And from the rubble and ruin
All around me
Raise my Beth-el,
A monument to remember
That I am,