Thursday, September 29, 2005


The mossy transom light, odors of cabbage and ancient papers, while Father Feeney polishes an apple on his tunic. I tell him I want the life priests have, not how the night sky's millions of departing stars, erased by city lights, terrify me toward God. That some nights I sleepwalk, curl inside the tub, and bang awake from a dream of walking through a night where candle beams crisscross the sky, a movie premiere somewhere. Where am I, Father, when I visit a lifeinside or outside the one I'm in? In our wronged world I see things accidentally good: fishy shadows thrown by walnut leaves, summer hammer heads whomping fire plugs, fall air that tastes like spring water, oranges, and iron.

"What are you running from, my dear, at morning mass five times a week?"He comes around the desk, its failing flowers and Iwo Jima inkwell, holding his breviary, its Latin mysteries a patterned noise like blades on ice, a small-voiced poetry or sorcery. Beautiful dreamer, how I love you. When he leans down, his hands rough with chalk dustrasp my ears. "You don't have the call," kissing my cheek. "Find something else."

On the subway home I found a Golgotha air of piss and smoke, sleepy workers, Cuban missiles droopingin their evening papers, with black people hosed down by cops or stretched by dogs. What was I running from? Deity flashed on the razor a boy beside me wagged, it stroked the hair of the nurse who waked to kiss her rosary. I believed the wall's filthy cracks, coming into focus when we stopped, held stories I'd findand tell. What are you running from, child of what I've become? Tell what you know now of dreadful freshness and want, our stunned world peopled by shadows solidly flesh, a silted fountain of prayer rising in our throat.