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  • Rachel Welcher

The Monk

The Monk

for Evan Welcher

If you had another life to live, you would be
a monk. A secretly Protestant monk, finally
able to embrace the silence that, until this
second life, has been a mere product of your
inner-landscape. “I have a rich interior life,”
you tell me about yourself and “she has a rich
interior life,” you say about our daughter,
Hildegaard, who sometimes pauses while raking
her fingers through the dirt to look up at the sky as
though she is finishing a conversation with the birds,
or maybe with Gabriel, who I like to think enjoys
talking to children because they are the ones who
believe, and who understand what really matters.
I picture you waking up at 4 am for prayer, then
sitting on a cold morning bench to watch the sun
rise over the prairie. You would be a Nebraskan
monk, or part of some Iowian cloister, a brother of the
midwestern expanse, embracing isolation as a form
of flourishing and as an opportunity to hear God
and eat bread. You would sow seeds in season, and
build rocking chairs for single moms out of fallen
trees. You would hide sci-fi novels under your pillow,
displaying only your prayer books. You never took a
vow of poverty because you wanted to keep your books
and your airpods. You’re a monk, but you still love to
rock. You drew a line in the sand, or in the dust, as is
more common in the midwest, knowing that you
couldn’t take them with you to heaven but also claiming
that you didn’t want to live without them on earth. They
told you, “Everyone has a weakness,” and let you in anyway,
but you will never agree that Pearl Jam or Star Trek qualify
as weaknesses. You write poems in your journal and read
them in lieu of sermons. You ask your brothers to tell you
the stories of their former lives, and you record them in the
same journal as prayers. One day, you discover an abandoned
dog on one of your daily walks, in the tangle of some nearby
wilderness, and you begin to save your meat scraps from supper
in a napkin, and bring them to the pup at dusk. Your brothers
know of your quirks and small rebellions and they smile and
shake their heads. You are their favorite. I know this because
you are my favorite person that I have ever met, and I can’t
imagine anyone else feeling any differently. Even so, please stay.
Your family would miss you if you went away and joined a
monastery. We promise to allow you moments of sitting in
silence, from time to time, inside your garage, carving
something out of Balsa wood and imagining what it
would be like to finally and fully fade away.

Cover image by Clem Onojeghuo


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