I have often thought Purgatory would not be some
hot fire of God, but, knowing me and what
would be excruciating for me, a
glimpse of every witless and witty,
witting and unwitting hurt I’d done –
all played back in the clarity of lovelight –
God at the back, wordless, with me left to
make of this story what I could –
the reputation-slicing jokes, the
cold overwhelming power to ignore –
even for years, even to this day –
boots on flowers, the girl crying
as she shuts the door, the friend who
knows I was never a friend –
and in answer to this nothing but
my own tears, the endless stream of them.
I almost welcome it. Why not
start now? Why not separate
the spirit from the salt and get the jump
on what so obviously must be done?
I thought of this yesterday, seeing a man
doing just that, though invertedly, being on
on this side of the divide, and not
regretful but grateful.
He was engaged in a kind of
love summation, going back over the old ground,
reviewing blessings –
the man who’d said, you’ll need a trade,
the doctor who’d cured tuberculosis,
the girl who hadn’t turned him in.
He, too, was in tears,
but here at the splendor of it all,
knowing you couldn’t contain it,
couldn’t hold even one of those blessings –
not in your little cup,
not in your little hand.