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
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 avès 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
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
it is drawn to wonder
if the dust
has any hidden
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
he knew. a flame
is always certain.
in darkness. in silence. 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]