Poem for St. John Vianney

CureYour heart, and bones, stole, and chalice,
I have knelt beside,
in a poor-town church, frumpy and cramped.

Next door: the wall, where you nailed the bag
that held the week’s potatoes;
the bed, scarcely used.

On the other side (of the altar):
vesting case, little plank to sit on,
and the prie-dieu where they knelt,

thousands after thousands.
Trains brought them; they lined up along the street
to confess to the holy priest.

God beckons. The world has webs.
Your penitents got themselves tangled speaking French.
Here we speak English and Spanish: tangled all the same.

He beckons: I Am Simple.
I got to gaze at the sky above Ars,
took a run past local cornfields of your farm-fed curacy,

where you wandered to read your Breviary.
You wanted to steal away to the cloister.
They dragged you home to the town church.

You can read souls better now
than you did then, dear Father.
Terrifying.

This Hamlet has more offenses at my beck
than thoughts to put them in.
Too arrant a knave for such a patron.

But He beckons.
The simple Fire
in the tabernacle

Who only loves, and shed His blood
so we could make the sign of the Cross,
and untangle everything.

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