To be a priest
is to widen your arms
to hold the great sorrow,
the stillborn hour
the hour night fell
like a drunk along the canal
slipping into the black mouth
of oblivion, and you lay your head
on your arms to rest forever
but being a priest
you have to wake them up,
those arms, and make them take heart
for the ache of holding up a world
small and trembling, full of fever
or bone-thin and silent as sleet.
Sometimes you hold so long
you become the other.
Is it so, is it possible?
Shirley’s spaniel took on her seizures
but one day missed the step
and lost the field. The priest said
it happens that love can grow so large
no life can hold it. First it seeps, then flows
then floods and someone walks out
and someone disappears.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.