TONY AND MARY

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WEDDING PICTURE ( May 24, 1944)

Mary
wears her future in her eyes,
white china smile:
home heavy with children,
nights weighing on a screen door slam,
a man to whisper with
cold supper.

And his boy eyes
defy unfinished dreams.
The sorghum press clawed that hand
when manhood came
instead of adolescence.
He started to give evenings
to a shiny truck.

It was a great idea:
load the farmers’ grain
right out of the fields,
and give them better prices
than anyone else.
When one night he didn’t come home,
Agent Lang told us
if the Mafia killed him
we would never know.
Or maybe he sensed trouble
and escaped to Mexico.

We sons and daughters
have spent our whole lives asking:
who knows Tony Metzger’s recent face?

SUNDAY AT ST. RAY’S

The bishop ascends his throne
amid songs of joy
and a blare of trumpets.
He is red-robed for the feast of Pentecost,
and his retinue is slowly filing into the sanctuary.
More red robes.

I picture apostles huddled together in an upper room.
They hadn’t bathed or shaved or laundered their robes for days.
I picture Peter boldly proclaiming,
“Men of Jerusalem, we are not drunk.
It is only nine a.m. We have not been drinking,
we have been touched by Spirit.
Listen while we tell you who this Jesus really was.”
Then they got down to the wet business of baptizing three thousand,
and the next day they had to figure out what to do with them.

“Veni, Sancte Spiritus,” someone intones.
I can tell you those apostles didn’t speak Latin.
And I can tell you where Christianity took
its first wrong turn.
When it stopped being persecuted.
When it went Roman.
When it jumped at Constantine’s offer
to make it the new state religion.

Peter and the rest of the twelve, though, they did it right.
Their early church gave people fresh new hope.
People danced in it.
At what point did its teachings harden
like cement around our ankles?

MY MOTHERING DAUGHTERS

I always hoped for them
the joy of children
without the pain of childbirth.

Now I want them to have babies
without earaches
without tummyaches and tantrums,
and any other kind of crying.

My mothering daughters
could use some more sleep.
But that’s because
they work hard and play hard.
They are enchanted with life.
For them, life is a toy store
full of shiny things
to see and do.

I am so glad
that they were wise enough
to marry strong,
soft-spoken, fathering men.

I want their children to love them
as much as mine love me.