This poem was originally published by Commonweal Magazine in April 2020 in response to a cardinal climbing down a manhole to restore power to 400 homeless people.

We were almost used
to living in the dark,
to being powerless,

that day you quietly
pulled the lid off the sky
of a world below

and snuck down, strange
inside that stale air,
to flip the switch,

subverting power structures,
sparking gasps of joy
in us who could not pay

that suffocating debt,
your dirtied hands declaring,
“Let there be light.”


Michael Stalcup is a Thai-American poet living in Bangkok, Thailand. His poems have been published in CommonwealRed Letter ChristiansSojourners, and elsewhere. He co-teaches Spirit & Scribe, a workshop helping writers to integrate spiritual formation and writing craft. Find more of his work at and on Instagram @michaelstalcup.

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