Vinni Marie D'Ambrosio, Ph.D.
by Vinni Marie D'Ambrosio, in Voices in Italian Americana
Why does he pray, every Sunday,
the old man in the pew before me -
"May my wife see the light" - ? Every Sunday,
during the parish
Intercessions, the same words float
in a cavernous whisper from his massive
chest. His head, even bowed, seems monumental,
its crop of whiteness
like a buffalo's mane in moonlight.
I hear him clearly - always he's chosen
the second row, and ritually I take the third.
nearby he has the same black suitcase,
its canvas sides stuffed to bursting -
with what pantomime of possessions I
Standing, we each hang onto
the warm wooden bench-backs,
red hymnal in hand, thin pages lying still.
No gilded transept
or carved mahogany baldachin faces us
but an altar that's plain as the plainsong
spiraling down in clear gray air from an invisible
grove of singers.
I'm not certain I should be revealing all this -
that at the entreaties for Intercession
I've learned to anticipate the pained,
"May my wife see the light,"
rolling around soft and deep.
The incantation - is it his eleventh-hour
the warning crack of doom? You can see how
a person might come to dwell
on this Byzantine triptych - an ancient and homeless
groom, a rusty
and hopeless bride (her gaze darkly averted,
his flaming), and, between the two,
a figure of mystery leaning one way and then
the other, listening.
Copyright © 2008 by Vinni Marie D'Ambrosio
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