for Sultana Harreck, a survivor
Remember us, the voices sang.
The life-rafts drifted. Nearer My God
to Thee. The big ship tilted
and was gone.
Whatever Sultana saw
remained in her heart.
She never cursed the ice
or the cracked hull
that blessed her immigration.
For years disc jockeys phoned
to ease their tense listeners
through the big tax deadline.
The happy coincidence was
no happy anniversary.
She accepted their wishes
but never tossed confetti.
For years she sat, confined, a witness
at the living-room, plate-glass window
in the wheelchair that did not roll far.
Her babies grew old, and one died stung.
A bee sting, Mother Harreck cried.
Perhaps there'd been no bee, no sting,
but a child's deep pain carried too long,
the edge growing sharper in secret until at last
other voices, older, cutting into darkest oceans called,
Remember the ice and remember us who drift
a while, then watch hard and long
at our plate-glass windows, waiting
for we all know what.
Leo Luke Marcello
in the presence
of him for whom
pretense is offense,
till He wraps
me with him
Cobwebs jammed the punched out holes
of the handlegrip.
It was a galvanized piece, except
where the faucet stem met the faucet body.
A crescent of rust proved
the spigot had not been used for years.
A quick twist and he broke the seal.
First nothing, then a low rumble, then fluid
the color of water and blood
formed a pool around the corner portico.
The bucket was still good, was dented
but no real damage.
Silt lay at the bottom collecting
the things only winter could leave behind.
Broken twigs and stems. The veins of
broken leaves. Four small stones and
a broken sparrow's feather.
A dip and quick circles collected the grains
that clung to the outer rim.
He swung the bucket upwards. The droplets
scattered the light and for a moment
formed a small vision,
a brilliant screen between
himself and the sun.
Each tiny shield came alive despite
a cargo of dust and debris.
For months only leaden rain
had prepared the ground and
polished the seeds for birthing.
But now the water ran to white.
He bent his knees and held
the bucket outward.
A quick tilt and the filling had begun.
In the diptych, I see two Messiahs:
one just prior to his closing breath
and another exactly one moment after.
I do not see the breath itself (it being breath).
Nevertheless, as my eyes stray from one
to the other then back to the first, the result
is that of a comical videotape of gridiron miscues,
where they forward-reverse-forward-reverse
the tumbling receiver for hilarious effect.
My mood, however, is less jolly as my eyes
reload-unload-reload-unload life into Christ.
Then suddenly all dyings and undyings assume
an editing room incredulity: Jairus' daughter
on her bed and Lazarus keeps kicking through
and disappearing behind his cave door
like some cop on a Stephen J. Cannell crime
drama in worldwide syndication.
Neither, Grandpa, at your wake in Wheaton
nor during your lonely flight as baggage to Boston
did you ever display such cinematic hilarity.
There is, however, still time.