women wearing Bay Fish Company yellow oilskin aprons
clean work, gutting the fish for Passover and Lent.
headed back to our car from the cutting
floor with a good pound-and-a-half of whitefish livers
in a clear
plastic bag. We'd gotten a good deal.
There's no sweeter sauteed liver.
But something stopped us.
An old, cracked leather voice.
Who knows what shape the voice of God might choose.
Next to a stripped down
pound net boat-- gray end-nailed
fender strakes no longer meeting end-to-end--, we stood
with our sack of bloody
livers. The vibrations rose one octave
higher: drier still, more plaintive. In rut where someone
had thrown them we found three dust-caked drums-- trash fish--
paying themselves out as drums will, gyrating their
getting no place, and croaking such love notes as connect kingdoms
underwater-- amplified by water and
sweetened by water,
We were without memory once. We were pure memory.
We'd come too far to put
where they could swim away their filthy wrappings,
re-tune their earstones,
consummate their callings.
In cold bay water, clear of nets
and hooks and words
we choke them with, they conjugate no one's
Hebrew, Greek, or
Latin, but roll and spawn with drums.
Mysteries Of Faith
you know it’s a Dutch Masters cigar, this being Holland,
Michigan, St. Francis de Sales parish,
you a fifth grader
and a connoisseur of cigars. And wouldn’t you know it’s
big around as a nickel, which is what one costs
the street at Ward’s Drug and you count up again all your
collection basket nickels, all
the sacrificed chances
to get your favorite battery, Yogi Berra and Bobby Shantz,
or Charlie “Paw Paw” Maxwell, or Rocky Colavito,
the true ecstatic
long ball saint of Cleveland, to get hard pink
slabs of gum that sail through seven sanctuaries
after your sidearm throws, and God in heaven, why not one cigar,
but a White Owl, like your grandfather’s White Owls, wrapped indecently
cellophane so you can see everything, the leering know-nothing owl
on the ring, the glowing-brown
leaves, lovely as your unrequited
love for Constanza Morales. Lord, you’re so
mixed up you don’t know
what to do, but wouldn’t you know Father Thome’s
is still smoking even as you see where Father’s teeth have chewed
and tongue has laved the believer’s end into a pulp,
sign of appetite and see where Father’s heal
too tenderly has crushed it.
Then, the devil tells you,
Pick up Father’s Thome’s cigar. Suddenly you
know every last thing
in the world, what you must do, and how you must do it. Why else
have you been blessed with the school’s best arm,
sense of distance? Why else would Father Thome’s
cigar lie smoldering at your feet?
All your after recess pals
come to attention at your cry of pleasure. You feel their fervor
as you pick up the cigar, blow sparks into a full-crowned
orange and yellow glow-- the Holy Paraclete! The open classroom
window is only half
the distance to the plate, thirty feet away,
above the walk, above the lovely beds of variegated
tulips the sisters tend,
and the forsythias, all blooming wildly, (It is after Easter.
Christ is risen!) and you wind, and kick, and throw a perfect pitch.
wouldn’t you know, Father Thome appears in the window.
The apostles all slip backward.
They fall asleep on cue. Father Thome elevates
the butt. His hand is smoking .You see the black hair
on his four fingers. You see he sees you’ve wasted all his hours of drilling
in the faith. You know you’re on his calendar:
One of four servers
for tomorrow morning’s High Mass. And worst of all
(because you always mess up the notes),
you’ll be on his right hand:
Black and white, you’ll be his acolyte, the one
assigned to ring the bells.
Smallest Bird in North America