Sunday, June 14, 2015

why I am still Catholic

we can’t cheat death but we can make it 
work so hard 
that when it does 
take us 
it will have known
a victory
just as perfect as ours. 
 --Charles Bukowski, a song with no end

Denise and I sat on the phone:
she, in the pleasant hum of Southern summer,
surrounded by brunch with friends
and books in cool, quiet mansions;
I, in a buzzing Yorkville Starbucks,
surrounded by bustling families in yarmulkes,
lining up for the free bathroom.

We were silent: awed and scared.
The mystery of How to Find a Soulmate
in an Adulterated World
of Tarnished Charmings nagging us.
The compromise:
the tidal pull
of acclimating to another human,
adjusting your internal thermostat
to their unique ecology,
retaining the mother tongue,
while loving them in language
common to you both--

and the resisting push of self --
standing staunch and stern,
against the ripping tide,
obsidian cliffs, rebuffing rough waves,
polished by the saline surf
into solid fortresses of identity--
we are baffled by
 the compromise of love

There are relationships
stamped into our bones.
There are people who ring us true,
who strike us like a clapper
on the sound-bow
of a bronze bell,
ringing with the pitch of glory.
Beyond a calculation or a proof,
there are cement building blocks,
that lay the foundation
 of my core identity.
If they disintegrate,
the entire artifice would crumble.

There are relationships
that fly through our lives
like the express train through a
local stop.
They are the cabs
that we could hail,
if we but reach out our hands
to claim them,
to snatch them from the street.
They are nothing more
than modes of transportation to
our final destination:
the person we are meant to be.

How do lovers
mysteriously become
How do speeding strangers
become pieces of ourselves?
When do you stay
on a bus careening into traffic;
instead of hopping buses,
switching courses
in the middle of the intersection?

How do we determine the people
who stifle something in ourselves
and those that help us die to Self?

Perhaps there is much
that we must die to,
false idols and false deities we must destroy.
The caterpillar's chrysalis
must be shed
that she might evolve into
a flying creature

If I ever ceased returning to receive,
with dirty and unworthy hands,
the God-man in a gluten host--
such humility shames my shabby pride--
all in Me--
that is worthy of that name--
would die.

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