Plug Nickel and Red Cent
met on museum steps and, inside,
mysticked with blue innocent Della Robbia,
rhythmed the light-shine white
of beyond, above, bright,
orisoned warm-milk fired clay, like flesh,
god-child in supple mother embrace.
Sigh of centuries.
Out straight west, they drove
their wood-paneled station wagon,
out past the 30-hundreds, the 40-hundreds,
nearly to the 52-hundreds
on the table-top Chicago grid,
out to Leamington to meet the gray-pants boy,
sitting on front porch steps, in full view — a
white-red-striped t-shirt buzz-cut good-boy,
out from inside, away, at large,
watching ant-gang heft cornbread crumbles
except this one alone, down sidewalk square
to an insect Promised Land.
He looked up at the two men,
vaguely priestly, vaguely outlawed,
said: “I’m looking to flee captivity
for the sin I don’t recall committing.”
“We’re guilty, too,” they said, and
the three walked to afternoon church,
for Stations of the Cross,
flaming altar candles, up, reaching always up,
echoes, shuffling, Latin abracadabras,
plainsong up, incense up from censor,
from burning coal, straining up,
cloud of unknowing, cloud of Mount Sinai,
cloud of breathing and not breathing.
After Amen, the three split up
and went home by a different path.
Patrick T. Reardon, a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, is the author of ten books, including the poetry collections Darkness on the Face of the Deep (Kelsay) and Requiem for David (Silver Birch Press) as well as Faith Stripped to Its Essence, a literary-religious analysis of Shusaku Endo’s novel Silence. His poetry has appeared in America, Rhino, Main Street Rag, The Write Launch, Meat for Tea, Under a Warm Green Linden and many others. His book Puddin: The Autobiography of a Baby, a Memoir in Prose-poems is forthcoming from Third World Press.
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