Didn’t know if he was a retard or a drunk. He would lurch around Gaelic Park during game days, grinning like an idiot, dribbling onto his filthy cassock. First time I saw him it was a shock. And then his name, which had a funny sound to it: Father McMenamin. The drunk priest, the embarrassment to the whole community. Happily staggering onto the field, being gently ushered off again, scolded as one would a child: now, now, father, mustn’t go there. The shame of it all. An affliction from God. The shepherd, the authority, the man of the cloth as moron, bum, joke. The meaner ones would buy him drinks and make fun of him. Give us your blessing, Father. Forgive me my sins, Father, and I’ll give you a glass. McMenamin forgave them all, wondering where he was. Somewhere far from home it seemed, searching for grace in the darkness of the Bronx.
The Documents are weeping, fading,
fearing the worst.
They are the messages
that keep coming.
They are promises, dreams, hymns,
They are word-flags.
You could wrap yourself
in their giant pages.
They want to tell us who we are
or who we should want to be.
They are sails made of speech.
You could navigate
the vessel of your inner life
with their words propelling you along to the horizon.
The Documents tell their stories
over and over, even when you’re asleep,
even when the dark government temple
where they are entombed has shut
down for the night. The Documents never
tire, never shut down. They never expire.
They keep up their endless arguments,
hoping to be heard. Take heart, they insist.
Resist your worst impulses. Fight on,
even against invincible power. Listen
to what we have to tell you, they say, ancient,
faint, yet stronger than a wall ten miles thick.