Saturday, July 31, 2021

The Tomb of Ignatius: Rome 1972



Rome.31 July 1972. Photo: Michael Harter, SJ

Liturgical Dancers: Luis de Tavera & Joseph A. Brown, SJ.

Eucharistic Liturgy: Presider: C. J. McNaspy, SJ. Community: Jesuit Institute of the Arts. 3rd Annual Meeting.

The Tomb of Ignatius:  Rome

31 July 1972


mark it out:  six footsteps.  just under

that.  deep enough for a child

for a child to  hide    and if able to stretch

and turn over    it would touch the walls.

no more room.

not even air would be comfortable beyond

these limits.   and tightly sealed.



see it:    a boat

a covered  gold boat    shaped

to float lightly into the sea    riding

high off to the edge of nowhere

if called.    or sent.



angels everywhere.   pulling the eye

up and around.    pointing into corners where

prayer evaporates and silence lingers.

behind marble clouds and silver folds

bronze curving in and out    the breath

that comes from the holy places everywhere

you look.    can you see it.

now.    mark it.    out.



when the bones have been cleaned they must be

boiled until the last scraps of meat and muscle

collect on top.    boil them in lye for the

best results



results are seldom expected.    even though

you know that plants need water

and rich dirt for successful growth    once

in awhile    a seed has been found

to take root in dust    airless dust

dust that is sealed away from

light    from rain    from everything but


                 (and even some times in forgotten




we were wrong    distracted    fools

after gold to believe that visions

come in silence

                           though a busload of belgian

tourists buying postcards    av├Ęs riding

in a wave of mumbled music    timed by

camera shutters and lights locked in

15 minute cycles

                             the vision in that should

have been a clue



that he would have accepted


everything at once

how clear he knew that

not even bernini himself could contain

an italian determined on devotion



little child


who could follow a lame man

who wept more and more as

time slipped him somewhere.

beyond he child.

and back again



called.    or sent.

the eye cannot be held to sliver

lights the perfect draping on an

angel’s thigh

                       it is drawn to wonder

if the dust

has any hidden







it could

it could



something brought us here



mark it.    nowhere.    mark it out.

see.    somewhere.    see it.    dust.

gold and bronze.    tears.    visions

called it.    out.


sent.    sent or called.    called.

and sent.    sent and called.    here.

yes here.    of course here.    he

would know.

                       he knew.    a flame

is always certain.


in darkness.    in silence.    here.

yes here.

               sustenance.    in dust.

in tears.    in tourists.   lights.

and visions.    yes.    mark it.


[Published in The Sun Whispers, Wait: New and Collected Poems. Brown Turtle Press. 2009]