Our high-speed hydrofoil is late. We wait in the island’s worst places, Aeolian churches. Bartholomew, the aging patron saint, drapes his flayed skin over one arm, a sommelier or thespian. Harrowing renders us raw, unclods soil and frees a captive field. The boatman hectors lesbians, insists on learning where they swim. I’m glad you don’t understand the Italian that I barely can. There’s nowhere on this island that doesn’t turn us more against ourselves or one another— too many days in paradise for minds like ours.
The congregation of pilled sweaters gathers. The least of them my brethren, their terrible feet unpeel from comfortable shoes. They come to be healed by my father through my father who kneels before them with a bowl a monk threw on a potter’s wheel near the rocks of the Dry Salvages. Among the fusty velvet pews, timelessness collides with time incarnate in human weakness, raw skin, yellow corns. Here, among us, there are so few strong among us, so many reeking needs, such fervent despair, I long to bare my baby teeth, to lunge at the wretched. God save us from those who wish to be saved in this suburban church, its reenactment intended to puncture time while the hollow chime of tennis balls from the next door courts rings with the sacrilege of a Sunday plough.