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Kill me & you kill Jesus Christ
—Salvatore Carnevale

Salvatore was warned. The words
arrived on the wind. The mocking bird
took up the meaning and went dumb,
and now something very like a person
in blue work shirt and faded corduroys
lies among the pepper plants behind
the garbage dump, his face closed
to all but the ants. Climb the hill
at the other end of town, open
the wooden gate and walk slowly
among the stones, the names and dates
erased by rain. Not far off the sea
rides soundlessly toward shore; the deaf
hear it as prayer; to the blind
it is the music of eternity.
To you standing above it all
the sea is a vast panel of shades
of black and white, and the old woman
off in the distance hurrying
to the scene is no one you know.
Perhaps the mother, perhaps not.
If I told you that twenty-seven
years from now when the wind stills,
you and the old woman will hear
the same words whispered over
and over and over for the rest
of your lives, would you care more?


The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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