Regina Dilgen’s exquisite “Meditation on Thomas Merton’s Hermitage” imagines American monastic Thomas Merton worn by grief and inspired to write. The sparseness and immediacy of the poem’s lines mirror the sparseness of the imagery and also the barrenness of winter, mortality, and sorrow. All these factors combine to elevate the effectiveness of Regina’s poem.
Meditation on Thomas Merton’s Hermitage
What if it were so late in the day
What if it were that blanket quiet of winter
What if the only sound was the snapping of twigs
What if the monk sat at an oak table he had made himself
Leaving its roughness
What if he were inconsolable
After such loss
Parents, brother, faith in humankind
What if the only prayer he could imagine
Was to sit in the gray house in Kentucky
No bathroom, but a fireplace
Looking through the window at the stripped bare trees
And write it all down.
Regina Dilgen, Ph.D., served as Professor of English and Department Chair at Palm Beach State College in Lake Worth, Florida. Her poetry has been published in the journals Persimmon Tree, Passager, and Apollo’s Lute. Her prose has been published in Radical Teacher, Teaching English in the Two-Year College, and in the anthology The Reality of Breastfeeding: Reflections by Contemporary Women. She was a featured poet at a Performance Poets of the Palm Beaches reading. She lives in Delray Beach, Florida, where she writes, paints, and walks on the beach.