On the Mountain*                                       


On top of the world at dusk

the silent flit of mountain finches

trailed after his three favorites

springing up the steep terrain

intense with expectation.


Invigorated by the climb

and resting on the crest

as misty shears began descent

he knew then his friends

at last were ripe for mystery.


The unexpected glimpse of glory

rinsed their senses to the roots,

hurled them through the velvet air

toward a fresher firmament

where every moment has a name.


His face was like a brilliant flash

that sparked the night sky

with a heat that singed their souls,

so ravishing on the precipice 

they could not look away,

so dazzling like a lighting strike

their feet felt fixed in fire.


When the smoke cleared

they sank down the mountain slope

the after glow disassembling

slipping back inside their skins

on the murky flats of faith.


Jerome L. McElroy


   *Accepted National Catholic Reporter (Sept. 2008).