Too Late

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At concourse G, gate seventeen,
     My sweat and panting pleas
That obstacles were unforeseen 
     May have been fantasies 
For all they cared of where I’d been.
    The door was locked within.
“I waited at another gate,”
     I pled. They said, “Too late.”

I wait, and weary, fall—hurled back
    Through sluggish centuries—
Asleep. The roof of my poor shack
    Unrhythmic’ly taps. These
Drops of rain suddenly unite
    In weeks of raging night.
I linger, doubting. Then flail straight
    To Noah’s ark. Too late.

Again I dream. Esau. I scratch
    My hairy arms and smell
The wildness in my clothes, and snatch
    At ev’ry hollow shell
Of happiness—in vain—and grope
    For Birthright, Blessing, Hope.
And strain with tears to shed the weight
    Of bitterness. Too late.

Now in my dream I waited and I slept.
    And suddenly a shout
At midnight wakened all, and swept      
    Us from our slumbers out
To meet the groom with lanterns bright.
    But mine would not ignite.
I flew and back. A bolted gate.
    A burning lamp, too late.

“Excuse me, sir, I think your flight
    Is boarding now.” “Yes.”
My tongue was thick with sleep. “All right,
    I’m coming.” “Good, unless
You plan to spend the night in dreams.”
    “No, I’ll be there.” It seems
I stand before an open gate,
    and it is not, too late.

                                John Piper
                                January 13, 2013