I mean the kind saints praise and scripture
calls blessed, the kind that inherits heaven
where maybe what’s left of us will be
more like a clear broth, than the vegetables
and meat we chop here, as the radio
blasts war, soup kitchen fills,
and down the block a crowd gathers
around two men yelling their different stories
to the cop as an ambulance wails off.
In its wake, I go back to cutting carrots
and beets, gazing into their concentric rings.
Everything with its secret heart,
Saint Francis says, where it’s better to be
prey than predator, better to step into
the net than be the one who rigs it.
Poverty, he says, a word so pure
it can’t be hyped, it sees into the dark
vessels of the heart, where the blessed know
what they lose, what sinks to the bottom
enriches the stock—which we will ladle out
to those shuffling in with their empty bowls,
as if they follow the saint’s hard recipe,
the one that says: Put everything in the pot
and let fire take over.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.