The cathedral, two blocks away from my flat in a city
where I used to live, chimes every morning at dawn,
and the sound is vague, whereas the rounds fired off
on a random evening when I went back to visit were clear,
moving through the air with such clarity I stayed down flat
on the bed with an arm thrown over my still-sleeping husband
until it was over, though over is a slim wish, because
it will happen again — though next time a window may shatter, or
the skull of the old man a house or so over should a stray bullet
find him. I found four shells the next morning in the side yard.
Sometimes the early bells toll a song I recall from a childhood
spent in a church-dotted South, though those churches lacked
the delicate ornament of St. Florian’s I’ve come to covet.
When there is a knock on the backdoor, I don’t answer.
Of course there are those who don’t knock but try the knob
or key my car on the curb because I have a car — though
no carport or garage, just the curb — and that is enough
to inspire hate in someone spilling out from Kelly’s bar next door
who has saved for nothing but a week of drinks downed in a night.
Salvation works that way — a man begins to thirst in the night
for what closed-eyed he saw glinting like mica under a stream
running fast over its bed, and he reached from the bank
of his dreams to cup that coin, to bring it wet to the lips.
I understand. I too can almost taste it: the metal and the rapids
moving through me, entering the way the promise of bells enters.
Yes. I might be saved by such a stream if only temporarily. But
moose or bear or rats would shit in that same stream. Consider,
the way the man that keyed my car felt momentarily assuaged
by bourbon, a drink he felt to be a drink of class to forget
he had been accused of having none, and until he saw the car
daring to sit on its tires like a sign saying “you who have nothing”
he thought he was okay, thought the night had carried him to the Lethe.
I get it. But I don’t blame strangers for possessing what I do not. And
I don’t expect the water to be anything other than the water it is.about the author