Even as a short, long-limbed, sun-battled boy
with dirty fingernails and a thick skull, they told me
Joshua! Be more careful – less gung-ho, less why-not.
So when my manhood’s start
sprung from the death of our deliverer,
and out of the whirlwind of mourning I heard God’s voice
warning me, Be brave, I was scared
for the first time.
But I put on a brave face. And then again,
the people’s first response turned out
to be the echo of that haunting phrase,
Joshua! Be brave! –I would feel strong
and courageous if
every man I met didn’t think I looked
like someone who needed reminding of these things.
But they were right. I was afraid—
not of the thousand thousand-soldier towns
we would invade, but of the men and God
who had my life in the power of their hands, and kept
telling me not to fear for it.