Copyright (c) 1999 First Things 90 (February1999): 20,26,33.
First the soft stuff, like stir fry on the lawn
Or a drummer brushing his snare.
Then the pellets rapping the roof,
Punctuated by rim shots, metallic in the gutters.
After that, lightning mapping the rivers of the sky,
Searing them to the eye sockets in photogravure.
And thunder, like barrels on a wooden floor
Rolling, rolling to a distant storage.
Finally: wind, shaking loose the trees,
Airing out their hidden leaves,
And a chestful of oxygen drawn in,
The first breath, it would seem, in years.
the woman brought before My Son
accused of adultery
… could have been me, they ringed
with their stony eyes and
fingers itching, bodies aching
to be next, too late to be the first
to cast a stone before the One
Who would know
what it’s like
to bear the Last Straw (Light
as a Cross) if Joseph
hadn’t stepped forward,
which is what
probably wrote in the sand, in
Belshazzar font, those oh so many
: Where is the man?
He waits outside the house in the car
for the boy to appear.
The monthly ritual as decreed;
the pick–up, the over–night stay.
He wonders what they’ll do.
He notes the trim flowerbeds,
the grass more lush than he remembers,
the path, neatly swept.
All reproach him for old neglectful ways.
Her car’s not there.
After five minutes he has to go
and ring the bell of the house
he used to live in;
has to see the new husband
his boy calls dad.
They talk about the weather and baseball
until the kid comes down the stairs
with his overnight bag.
Tall, lanky, almost fifteen
with an attitude.
Each time a little more distant.
Polite, but only just.
He wonders what they’ll do
knowing it will be the same routine,
a stop at McDonald’s, the usual questions
about school, the drive to his apartment
with the pull–out bed,
then watching the game on TV
to help fill in the long silences.
–Kathleen du Haime