I wear a paper mask, Jacqui a festive Aloha mask,
and ten feet away, a card table between us,
sit her parents, both in their nineties, maskless,
too hard to explain the what and why
of the wearing, so we listen in silence
to “All Creatures of Our God and King”
on Jacqui’s phone. To keep Covid at bay
we use the garage to bow our heads and lift
Jesus to our mouths. I close the garage door
for privacy and open the back door to coax
a breeze playing hard to get. This is the eucharist,
Utah style, with me preparing bread and water,
me kneeling on concrete, and me passing
to a congregation of three, then taking a scrap
myself. The garbage can, big as a witch’s cauldron,
squats behind my left shoulder, shovels
and rakes line the wall like saints, and three boxes
of slug bait on the shelf haven’t killed anything,
with or without bones, since before 9-11.
Dementia and pandemic are the twin enemies.
We curse the latter and downplay the former.
Never mind that whole countries have evaporated
from my in-laws’ memory banks, goodbye
Thailand, so long Peru, also farewell to pesto,
ATM machines, cataract surgery, and the faces
of three grandchildren who visited at Easter.
No more Muhammed Ali or Ruth Bader
Ginsberg, though Fred Astaire still kindles
somethingwait, wasn’t he a general?
Jesus, though, is still here, not homemade
or Wonder but a torn English muffin, and soon
he’ll be four trickles of water in Dixie cups.
And He is summer solstice, our longest day
and shortest night, and He is robin and finch
and sometimes an elegant stellar jay ricocheting
tree to tree. And He is the hoe that can chop
weeds till sunset and the broom that sweeps
away mouse droppings and dust balls
and crumbs, and He is this sweet tangle of silver
lights we’ll drape over the flocked tree
at Christmas. Monkey wrench and vice
grips, Selah, tape measure and twine, Selah.
And He is the dusty blue cruiser bike, tires
still good, hanging from the rafters, ready
at any instant to ferry us to the next life.
Till then, we bow our heads to this glorious
broken now and we ask and we ask and we ask.