Mercy was a schoolyard word,
the key unlocking the grip of the bully,
something I saw often enough
but normally (neatly, nimbly)
dodged myself. God did thus
himself a disservice, putting
his good word first in the
mouth of the enemy who demanded it –
of his victim no less.
And this was part of a larger pattern,
I saw, God betting on the wrong horse,
dumping his treasures in the mud,
thinking all-screwed-up might make
the good, the true and the beautiful
Oh I’ll admit:
I never see the truth better
than when I’m wrong
or love purity more
than when I’ve sinned.
So maybe this is just the way.
Why must dark
dress up our day?
Who would be verticaling
what horizontal was,
namely this track,
hooking a chain to the train
so we won’t fall
I myself am that cloud
blotting God out,
drifting the fence
So God has turned you loose.
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.
I am the box
not big enough for God
so flat now
wide as a box can be
Hands you the keys.
A soul should wilt but you won’t.
You’ll drive till the end of time
and when you’re done
you’ll put it back here.