Divine Comedy

I am sure it rained there. But that is not what I remember.
I remember sitting in a black-green 1938 Chevrolet
watching mulberries rot into red-purple paste on hot concrete.
I was breathing red clay dust
while my mother shopped at blue Krogers
and I stared at the man pulling celery stalks
out of the wooden trash barrel.
He was wearing a wool overcoat.

Maybe it snowed in Sullivan, Indiana, but that is not what I remember.
I remember crayons melting into hot wax pools,
the suffocating dulcet of catalpa blossoms
and caterpillars covering a cracked driveway.
A slate gray Maytag chugged on the open back porch,
extruding diapers, towels and sheets. Down the street
the neighbor children played in their underwear.
The straps of my sunsuit kept falling down.

Probably there was sleet and ice, but what I remember
is Pentecost’s lemon-lily cross carried high,
a sun overhead setting fire to white dresses, veils, suits and ties,
children so young in white cotton gloves,
necks graced with brown felt tags,
the shimmering halo of heat around Sister Mary Patrick,
who lived her 1,500-year rule of moderation
in black serge modesty.

Perhaps there were mild days, but I remember only one,
sitting on the grass beside the swingset. The soft buzzing
grew louder and I looked up at the star on the plane’s wing.
Does it have a bomb, I asked my sister.
The war’s over, she told me, the war’s over.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

The Vatican has accused its first-ever auditor general of “going beyond his powers in hiring an external firm to carry out investigations on the private lives of exponents of the Holy See.” The announcement comes after the auditor-general, Libero Milone, who resigned last June, broke his silence

Gerard O'ConnellSeptember 24, 2017
A group of lay theologians and clergy opposed “Amoris Laetitia” have released a letter “correcting” Pope Francis, part of an ongoing effort directed against the pope’s focus on pastoral outreach to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics.
America StaffSeptember 23, 2017

The martyrdom of Blessed Stanley Francis Rother "fills us with sadness but also gives us joy to see the kindness, generosity and courage of a great man of faith," Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, said Sept. 23 in Oklahoma City.

Catholic News ServiceSeptember 23, 2017
Cardinal Patrick D’Rozario, the archbishop of Dhaka, has described the recent attack on the Rohingya community in Myanmar, as “a crime against humanity.”
Gerard O'ConnellSeptember 23, 2017