John Warner Smith

The Torch

Muhammad, twenty years before you left us,
we saw you appear out of pitch-black darkness

on a mountainside and watched you step
slowly toward a blooming bush. Your hands,

trembling like a man twice your age, held
a lit torch and raised it high above your head,

as if you were saluting your maker, the first
and only lasting spirit of humankind.

You reached down and touched the bush
with your torch until an all-consuming fire

lit the midnight sky. Through tears, joy,
and adulation, through history and your life

flashing before us, we watched you stand
straight and strong until you became

our lives, our torch, our flaming, blooming
cauldron for dark, unsettling days.