I have just one person left on earth who’s been My friend through grade school, high school, church, and sports, The pastor says. Meanwhile the winter rain Explodes on the metal roof like handgun shots,
And it’s hard to hear the man go on: Thing is, He’s lost his memory. There comes a catch In his throat, a thing that no one here has witnessed Through all his ministry. Here’s the trouble, he adds,
I’m left alone with the things we knew together. Silence ensues, save for a few quiet coughs, And rustlings of the worship programs’ paper. Then the preacher seems to change his theme right off,
Speaking of Mary, and how she must have suffered When her son referred to his apostolic peers As family, not to her or his brothers, Not to Joseph—as if he forgot the years
Spent in their household, as if he kept no thought Of ties that bind. The congregants are old. They try to listen, but their minds go wandering off To things like the pounding rain outside, so cold
And ugly and loud. The storm, so out of season, So wintry, still improbably recalls The milder months, which vanished in a moment, And which they summon vaguely, if at all.
Tiny, almost an anti-weight, if it blew off my palm in the wind I might not even notice. Dashing against the back porch glass, the bird fell onto logs I’d stacked there, or rather heaped. I loaded our wood more neatly out in the shed but this jumble of lumber reminded me my life lacked grace.
Wind didn’t kill the bird but misprision. My oldest daughter had just given birth to twins, and I was thinking of them of course when I saw the sparrow. We’re in a hopeful season. I’d like to imagine new beginnings, not ponder for instance the self-styled Christian Warriors I heard about lately, devoted to killing police,
to launching Armageddon. They claim these are days of Antichrist, and I could almost agree—for other reasons. Thou shalt not murder is among the Commandments, I’d remind the warriors, all nine of whom live in Michigan, a place near hell in this near Depression.
Days are bad worldwide, though in gospel God’s eye takes in the smallest sparrow. Vile hooligans among us storm over having a president who’s other than white. We’re all human, and none of us saved, and—as the old Greek said— it might have been best if we’d never been born.
And yet to imagine a world devoid of hope is too easy and lazy, I decide. Outside the odors of spring fly in on the wind: damp mulch, old ice, wet mud and sap. The sugar-makers hope for a few more gallons, hope for a few more years, to be with my children. I open the stove, sweep the bird in.