Lessons from the Sky

I breathe the bracing air, I feel the dew
Wet through my shoes and socks. The morning’s fair,
The sky’s a waiting canvas backed with blue,
The sun still sleeps, my eyes cut through the air.
Absorbent blue near hides a beauty rare:
The morning star, who guides us through the night,
Oh, praise the Root, the Son of David bright!

I step on soggy turf, long soaked with rain
And see the sky all choking with cheerless grey,
Fraught with numbing monotony or pain,
A mist just out of reach to darken day.
But look! One tiny spot reveals a ray
Of softest light and all-enduring blue—
Oh Lord, the heavens reveal your steadfast love;
Your faithfulness breaks through the clouds above!

I take a midday stroll up yonder hill
And gaze on billowing clouds that paint the sky
In fluffy white. Some seem completely still
As high above my head they slowly fly.
Yet wind still sends them gently flowing by.
A thousand years for us are but a day
To you, oh Lord, and patient is your way.

And then I see that clouds so far away
Look chiseled in the air, like fields of snow
Under which well-formed hills and ridges lay.
But clouds that draw well-nigh and hover low
Are naught but fog, all hazy, coming slow.
Oh Lord, with time your will appears so clear,
But close-up seems like mist upon the mere.

I dare to step outside and see the trees
Breaking, cracking; around me all is dark
With gale force winds that bring men to their knees,
As smoke-dark clouds descend with faces stark
And lightning lashes wildly to its mark.
Oh Lord, rebuke the wind, rebuke the waves,
Just say the word and show us how you save!

Sleep leaves me, so I step into the night,
Where running water calms my restless mind.
I see the stars in witness shining bright
Upon the earth and thankless humankind—
Few ever stop to praise that premiere mind,
Who all created, all keeps well in place.
Oh, how I long to see Him, face to face!



Nathaniel Todd McKee lives in the Appalachian foothills of Southeastern Tennessee, where he is a Financial Manager. 

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12 Responses

  1. Roy Eugene Peterson

    Nathaniel, this is exquisite rhyming classical poetry with a deep-seated message of supernal awe and praise. Beautifully phrased and envisioned with vibrant thoughts that soar above the clouds.

  2. Janice Canerdy

    Your skillfully-composed, vividly descriptive poem speaks reverently of the creation and the Creator.

    • Nathan McKee

      Thank you, Janice, I was humbly attempting to do just as you described.

  3. Yael

    What a lovely poem to read on a fine, sunny, warm Sabbath morning, thank you, and Shabbat shalom to all on this seventh day.

    • Nathan McKee

      Yael, I wish I could have replied yesterday, but a day late, happy Sabbath to you as well, I hope it was a rejuvenating one for you and your loved ones. Thanks for taking time to read my poem.

  4. Margaret Coats

    Nathan, this is a splendid sky psalm, ordered partly by the passage from dawn to night, and even more by various observable “moods” of the sky. It’s beautifully done in rhyme royal, with that extra line in stanza two that is NOT a mistake and NOT just something you wanted to keep from an unrevised draft. It represents in the structure of the poem (not only in its words) the tiny spot revealing a distinctive ray “Of softest light and all-enduring blue.” It’s the sky’s own artistic pointer to the Lord and God of the Sky. Very nice technique that I wouldn’t have thought of myself, and I’m glad you did.

    • Nathan McKee

      Margaret, I am impressed with your eye for detail – that’s not something I noticed or even thought about while I was writing this piece. But lo and behold, you are exactly right, an extra line without a paring rhyme! I wish I could own the deep purpose that you so artistically and charitably ascribed to it. Thank you for your careful reading.

      • Margaret Coats

        Looks like it was inspiration, and it does rhyme with the opening rhyme sound of the poem in the first stanza.

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