It was a time of lostness, like the times
that came before, yet sharpened by the thought
that this time might, at length, become the last:
a path that narrows to a point soon lost
like others in horizon and dark distance,
if not a circuit travelled with the hours,
marked off stations of no cross: to work,
a quick meal out, or home, such as it is,
where cooking is not done. And so to bed
until the next day’s lap, at slowing pace,
toward prizes known and not set to increase.
The weekend’s foretaste of advancing age
was seasoned by the dwindling hours of friends
not called away to children, spouse and yard.
The staple rest was chores, long shifts at bars,
the pleasures possible in solitude
at movies or museums where, sometimes,
the roots of awe hold fast against all rote
and lifted up a brilliant, whole, round world
that offered lush abundance, even perfection
when viewed in certain lights. Yet to embrace
that world complete would mean to touch, at most
a poverty of points, at little depth.
To hold more of its bounty would require
a handle and, at length, another hand.
Some say they are Jesus
though they remain in this world
and perform no wonder works.
No one claims to be me,
not prophesied, or essential,
casting a net with my brother
when we were called out
of that day and all like it.
A farmer or baker could have served just as well.
There are many figures of speech.
Someone else could have done
the leaving, the following
and preaching in distant cities.
The crown of martyrdom
fits any head.
What my name has to do
with a flag’s devices
or a rocky place to play a game
is beyond me, like
a trade in relics that has left
bones, perhaps mine,
in a Patras church.
The grandmothers praying there
half-expect to hear my voice.
You, on the other hand, must listen.