Somewhere between a bird's nest and a solar system - whom did the story use to fashion the crown of thorns, and did it prick them? Whom did the story use for judgement? Whom for betrayal? The slender silver filament of drool from too much Quaalude tethered her chin to her shoulder. When I came back she was sitting on the couch, her hands turned up, her face turned away and down. Every Annunciation is freaked with doom, flashed in crucifixion. Because I left home she was allowed to keep pushing her face through the windshields of collapsing automobiles, as if she wanted to be born from a speeding car. All according to plan, following the story in telling it. Pilate no more judges Christ than he judges the air he breathes. He is nothing. He washes his hands according to plan, another symbol. It would be like judging a cloud formation, the Grand Canyon, or an ant. Like washing less than nothing from your hands.
Its back was leaves that mimed the leaves in back of us, but the chair was painted white - white as the snow that never stopped falling in my ears. The white leaves of the chair that mocked the leaves of the backdrop, making us, for you, the foredrop, imprinted leaf-prints on my bare back - white ones. I held my gurgling sister in my lap, child whose cloud I held as well, as the white wrought chair with its white leaves sped us toward the sanctuary of damage. Can you, where you are now, remember the garden chair I held her in for you? We make a crazy Pietà, my newborn sister and I. You step back. In my lap there rests a cloud of swaddling blankets like a shroud, and on the cloud a laughing child. I squint and smile. I'm round- faced as a moon on a string, towheaded, slope-shouldered, vague as a lamb and shorn like one. The backdrop won't drop back its ivied wall.
I was teaching my little sister how to fly when she broke her arm. I did. I lay back in the snow and put my galoshes against her skinny butt and pushed her into the sky. Over and over up- ward into the falling, and the fallen caught her, and her laughter spilled. We got it wrong one time and that was it. I said, "Now, now." My mother's white station wagon disappeared into the snow on its way to the white hospital, and the volume turned up. Right now a spring snow falls and sublimes. The snowline retreats upward like a rising hem of sky. The snow is disappearing toward me.
From Resurrection Update: Collected Poems 1975-1997, published by Copper Canyon Press, 1997. Copyright © 1997 by James Galvin. All rights reserved. Used with permission.