Holy Week, 2017
O, necessary sin of Adam . . . O happy fault . . .
(Fellini footage/Nino Roto score)
Predictable piazza du Padova.
A ragged figure purses lips
to a silver mouthpiece, lifts
a haunting anthem skyward,
stars tumble enchantment.
White powder drifts from
drooping clown’s mouth,
precise steps, ring enscribed,
impossible feats unveiled,
(fade to black)
Sister Raymunda fingers colored chalks
only sainted nuns may touch,
angels, flaming colors
of the Cirque du Monte Carlo,
across a scarred blackboard, choirs
swirling around the eye of God
within a sky of Giotto blue.
She reveals to our amazement:
Il Paradiso --
Sister Raymunda (who has never studied Dante, in Italian nor in translation) blazes Wonder:
Some of you may squeeze into
the celestial mystery with the
grace of a street urchin,
if you are skilled and scourged.
Sadly, most will find yourself
drudging in the icy pits.
Before us, swirling fingers,
on another slate rises leviathan Satan,
gorging sinners as blinded Polyphemus
swallowed drunken sailors
before their fellows fled his cave
under the bellies of bleating sheep.
Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom
Sister drifts across the room,
brandishes a long oak pointer,
a black garbed Seraph taps
each stunned head, transforms us
into song birds:
Palm Sunday, my brother-in-law decided
to die a long slow death
on his family room floor.
A tiny car appeared expelling
A doctor, a nurse, a lady
(with an alligator purse)
plied their instruments, found no remedy.
Tony stared ceaselessly
through a stately window:
a gnarly dogwood tree --
the wood of the Cross --
buds and blossoms
ten thousand crucifixions.
Sunset at Scituate, clownish clouds
tumble toward nighttime, radiant stars.
A school of young sailors
follow a schooner, haul in their sails.
A cormorant dives deep for fish.
I sit on a bench my grandmother sat upon, pregnant with my mother, unmarried, searching
below the stalwart lighthouse
seagull cries divert my thoughts
toward fluttering canvas across the point,
a painted elephant announces:
Under the Big Top – as the circus should be seen!
(Tonight. I will snake my body into the death-defying show)