for my friend Ruth, who urges me to make an
Appointment for the Sacrament of Confesson
Concerning your letter in which you ask
Me to call a priest and in which you ask
Me to wear The Cross that you enclose;
Your own cross,
Your dog-bitten cross,
No larger than a thumb,
Small and wooden, no thorns, this rose
I pray to its shadow,
That gray place
Where it lies on your letter… deep, deep.
I detest my sins and I try to believe
In The Cross. I touch its tender hips, its dark jawed face,
Its solid neck, its brown sleep.
True. There is
A beautiful Jesus.
He is frozen to his bones like a chunk of beef.
How desperately he wanted to pull his arms in!
How desperately I touch his vertical and horizontal axes!
But I can’t. Need is not quite belief.
All morning long
I have worn
Your cross, hung with package string around my throat.
It tapped me lightly as a child’s heart might,
Tapping secondhand, softly waiting to be born.
Ruth, I cherish the letter you wrote.
My friend, my friend, I was born
Doing reference work in sin, and born
Confessing it. This is what poems are:
For the greedy,
They are the tongue’s wrangle,
The world’s pottage, the rat’s star.