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  • Writer's pictureDana Butler

A Long Way Off

(a poem-prayer, to be found where the father is)

A father's heart embraces

his son

still mid-run,

still a long way off.

A father's heart appeals to

the righteous one,

always right at home,

yet a long way off.

Elder son, night & day

compared to younger—

years worked,

waited (bided?), while

younger brother spent,

risked, squandered.

The conscientious and compliant,


complaining, thankless,


missing the whole



(which he would have

found to be just as much

for his own



And the most

remarkable grace:

so wildly impulsive,


desperately sincere—

this is

the son who finally

attains the lavishness of

his father's heart.

Oh God,

let me not be found in

self-righteous sulking,

worshiping my own

“vast” differences

from my younger sibling

(so many ways to

be a long way off).

May I be found in

celebratory proximity

to the just-arrived-home,

who still smells of animal

stall, bits of pig slop

still clinging to

their clothing. Unafraid

to get close,

unbothered when

a bit of pig slop

rubs off

on me.

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