The Thin Black Line
Early dusk. A little flock of daws
cuts the crisp air, heading south.
Advent has arrived, and the nights
for the Immaculate-Conception Novena.
The year has grown old, as have I.
(Or middle-aged, at least, and a little tired.)
The Church in America: a brown-paper parcel,
wrapped-up with thin black twine.
Do not open until Christmas.
Christmas 2018, or -19, or -20, or -25.
But I won’t let go—not yet—of the moon-lit dusk
when I said totus tuus to the Virgin, on younger knees.
You had carried us there, Holy Father,
on those ski-sculpted shoulders,
spinning the twine with your hands.
You chugged like a rail engine
through the passes of the Dolomites.
Another country opened up before our eyes.
So, if I am a strand of the black twine,
or a billow of the smoke flowing from the stack
into Christ’s third millennium:
it’s because I knelt under your wings.