Sunday Morning Mystery


Alex Roulette, At Swim
Alex Roulette

In April of 1999, when Escape Into Life founding editor Christopher Al-Aswad (1979-2010) was not yet twenty (but was taking more care to date his journals than he did later in his young life), he drafted this poem in pencil, trying out its words and stanzas on several pages, and ending with three stanzas, five lines each, capital letters starting every line, and repetition in the structure and even the punctuation, as if the “mystery” of the morning might still be perfectly ordered in the poem.

Sunday Morning Mystery

Calm Sunday morning—
The quiet drive to Church,
Fresh grass smell,
Red sun overhead;
How it moves me to be alive on Earth.

Reflective Sunday morning—
Beside my younger self,
Snug in the backseat,
Is my historical self;
How it moves me to see myself.

Palpable Sunday morning—
His hand cups my knee,
The still-blue day in his eye,
The joking voice is near;
How he tames me is mystery.

The poem has focus and insight, as well as order, and sensory details, though the church bells from the drafting didn’t ring in the final version. In a draft, a grandfather cups the speaker’s knee; in the final draft, the grandfather has merged into “my historical self,” someone more metaphorical than real, perhaps alluding also to a light-hearted Christ as well as the youthful Christopher.

We “resurrect” him here, on Easter Sunday, April 20, 2014.




  • Basel Al-Aswad

    I remember this poem clearly. It was short but packed with memories of love and intimacy between grandson and grandfather. Fifteen years ago my father Ibrahim passed away and Chris read it in the Church service if I remember correctly. Today on Easter Sunday I remember and honor them both.

  • Tiana

    I have this poem framed sitting on a table in my living room since Chris passed away. We remember both of them as well as my mom and my sister Lena who died at 17 years of age. May God bless their souls in heaven, Amen.

  • Sue O’Connell

    I think Chris gave me that poem framed also. I remember it well. Beautiful!