…when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and another
will gird you and take you where you do not want to go.
The woman with the invisible stigmata
sits day by day in the gelateria and wonders
why no one else can see what she cannot,
though she knows her hands are carved
with holes, knows they are a blessing,
a punctured prompt that says suffering
is more than cars sizzling past in the drizzle,
history more than layered sediment in stone,
the tomb of a talking crow and Simon Peter
running from his execution. Quo vadis? he asks
the risen Lord who passes. When the answer
is a return to Rome and a second crucifixion,
Peter turns back to find his own death upside down.
Such stories are not to be trusted, she thinks.
Who asks for such a thing? A string of pain to tie
your eyes to. Eye your ties to, says the crow.
The rain keeps coming and the city has gone quiet.
The woman with the invisible stigmata hears
the crow call her name. She palms napkins stained
with flames of mora e cioccolato as men in black
waiting out the storm beneath the awning
pass their flat wit back and forth like cigarettes.
Children heave themselves into the rain.
A bouquet of umbrellas blossoms from their hands.
For Tony and Penelope
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.