Forty years down our wilderness path,
neither I nor you recall the genesis.
All we know is our tweenaged selves
standing in shame before your holy father
athwart the steps of the church’s back stair—
your left cheek flushed and me red-handed.
We both expected a sacerdotal judgment;
today, we still can summon his words:
“A gentleman never strikes a lady;
a lady never deserves to be struck.”
We took his points to heart, far too deeply:
I could be no gentleman, and you no lady.
But how might you and I possibly be,
with so many lessons yet to be earned?
There is nothing so pure as crucibled gold,
nothing so sanct as the altar bloodied;
nothing so lovely as broken hearts,
nothing so holy as the foot-washing rag;
nothing so precious as porcelain, mud-made,
nothing so hallowed as a cradled breast,
nothing so sacred as a lover’s moan—
nothing so fallen as a wild thing tamed.
Time is a curse by which forever is measured—
measure for measure, and found wanting.