It was at a rather low point in my life that I wrote this poem. A time when I was recuperating from a betrayal and was quite depressed. Some time ago, I actually won a poetry contest for this piece.
In this poem, we learn about a man’s spiritual, physical, and emotional descent due to the influence of alcoholism and an estranged dad. We learn the speaker’s story through a series of letters that he writes to a lost love. This love of his never writes back. The imagery of the grapes and wine, as well as the cement porch, are meant to be symbolic of other things.
The poem initially ended after Letter five, which left the male speaker in a hopeless, broken state. I added the alternate ending sometime later when I gave my life to Christ. I discovered just how powerful His mercy truly is and that there is always hope. I wanted this revelation to be reflected in my poem.
“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” John 15:4 (NIV)
When I was still young,
my mother and father must have fallen out of love.
I never really found out why.
I just watched the family vineyard die,
because mother hated it and didn’t tend
to it, and I never saw my father again.
I remember after Father left,
Mother and I began to go to church.
I remember exclaiming, “Look, Mommy, I see God!”
That first church visit is still so clear.
Mom said, “No dear,
that man’s name is Pastor Don,
and he only speaks the word of God.”
As we reached the end of the service,
an ornate chalice,
glinted up on the marble altar…
It has been ages since you left my love,
but still, let me tell you of
the process of which I aged.
When I was very, very young,
I remember my father’s knees,
They were caked with cracked, dried mud,
from kneeling in the rows,
of the tiny vineyard,
that we, our family, had so long ago.
My nickname from Dad was “Wee Pip.”
He called me that,
the day he handed me a seed to plant,
in the black soil next to the lines,
that the emerald vines would come up to twine.
“Love this plant, Pip. It is God’s creation and gift,
but don’t put your life into it as I did.
Your loyalty must be to the creator,
not to the creation.”
As a boy, I sat beneath,
the summer shade,
under the eve,
of the cemented back porch.
I would look out at the vineyard,
Overgrown and slowly dying now since father left.
I did this an hour or so before the sunset.
My little pudgy legs would be crossed,
and I would be picking at,
a cluster of plump grapes,
which I held up and examined at length.
They were very smooth,
and I also observed that they were the same color,
as the bruises on my tiny knees.
Then I would choose and tug,
the most ornate of the orbs onto my tongue.
The skin would pop satisfyingly beneath,
the glossy surfaces of my young, grinding teeth.
My Dear Diana,
I sat with you underneath,
the same eve,
when you and I were about fifteen.
Our lips were often tie-dyed,
purple and pink,
from the Dixie cups of grape juice,
we would often drink,
and share after lunch.
The vineyard was starting to become,
a tangled, jungle of,
overgrown thorns and scraggly weeds.
“What if I am like my Dad,” I asked,
looking out on the vineyard.
You pressed your fresh tasting,
lavender mouth against mine.
You said, “Just remember what
is important in life,
and God will provide.”
Years after, I would blame everything on,
Dionysus, who stole my allegiances from,
you, my only love, and everything else as well.
I was lost in the drink’s ecstasy,
it’s spirited, sinful frenzy,
loose women, gambling, and drugs.
It had been a number of,
summers since I stopped going to church,
where I would sip on Jesus’ blood.
Instead, I spent time in different ways,
at a different altar of peanut shells and filthy ashtrays.
Once, after a night slamming shots at the bar
I walked home and fell into the mess of the old vineyard,
I woke up with the sour smell of vomit,
smeared across my face,
thorns and thistles had shredded up my arms and legs.
Needless to say, your quick escape,
was like a bitter, red wine,
diseased with the stench of cork taint.
My long lost love,
I have spent,
many summers just eating raisins,
on the old, cracked porch of cement.
looking out over the empty lot that was once,
Father’s beloved vineyard.
Mother died five years past,
and I have been alone for some time.
with no family, no child,
to hand a seed to and plant a vine.
To warn of the barren qualities,
of an amethyst fruit that is so very lovely.
Yes, I burned out and aged rather quickly,
in the name of Dionysus.
Somehow I still remain here,
living day to day, year to year.
But I am here in pieces,
As I remember the love and loyalties I forgot.
I realize that I am far from even a noble rot.
All I am,
has shriveled through the time,
strung along a branch,
That is severed from the vine.
Today I remembered my mother.
It has been a decade since she passed.
She took me to that church so long ago..
“Mommy,” I asked, “what is that up,
on that table, in that metal cup?”
“That is Jesus’ blood,
one day you will understand, Son.”
Lord, now is that day,
And I had a visit paid,
to me by my new friends from church.
They helped me as we walked back and forth
pouring cement as I patched up the porch.
A small damp patch of cement
in the corner I chose,
facing the direction of the vineyard
that is no more.
I carefully inscribed in it
John, chapter fifteen, verse four.