Hauled an old longsleeved cotton shirt out of the drawer Yesterday and once again time ground gears and shifted Back forty years and this very shirt which was then more Shirt than holes is handed to me by my lean gruff almost Always quiet tall older brother who is of course my hero And I gape at him unbelievingly and say Really, for me? And he nods and so I come into possession of his college Shirt earned playing football for a tavern or something as Quotidian as that but not for me, not at all for me—that’s The point. Whatever we think is quotidian isn’t. The pub Was called Sweeney’s. It closed long ago. I would not be Surprised if this was the last Sweeney’s shirt in existence. I’ll always have his shirt in a drawer. If I touch it, here he Is in the room with me, smiling at how a shirt can make a Kid speechless with astonished joy, even forty years later. Isn’t that amazing? We hardly ever say how amazing it is That you can freeze time and reverse it and make it caper And spin it back to anywhere anyone you used to be. Isn’t That amazing? A snatch of song, a scent, a battered collar, A ratty old pub jersey. So many time machines. Yes, time Wins. My brother withered and vanished. Yet here he sits On the edge of the bed snickering at me as the shirt hangs Way down past my knees. No religion owns resurrections.
Young Masaccio died before his paint had dried, but his time-battered fresco tells all: how man in the midst of figs and wine reaches for the whole banquet and loses all but the crumbs, which taste like poison.
Their sin is fresh; the doors of Paradise slam while heel still crosses the threshold, driven out by the upraised sword of a crimson-winged messenger of God who points their way to a world of dust. His flowing garment billows around their nakedness.
They walk toward us, look like us. His woe is inward, head bowed. His hands cover darkened eyes; from his mouth, muffled sobs. Yet he strides forward to face the wilderness which yet he does not comprehend.
She does. Her foreshortened face, skull-like, gazes up into the looming abyss. Eyes strokes of gloom, from her mouth a scream of agony for what she sees ahead: needles passing in dirty rooms, children shrunk to skeletons, men strapped with bombs.