“and for him to see me mended / I must see him torn.” -Luci Shaw “Mary’s Song”
He stood at the door, wet-faced and panting.
in his hands three baby birds. They’re hungry,
he sniffed, nested them in a bowl with grass,
fed them worms until they died. After, I held him
for an hour, his soul too much for this world.
Who doesn’t want normal for her son?
Yet he chose the lonely of the children, played ball
with the friendless. He was quiet, sat with me
long hours, watching: the grass, the anthills, the sunset.
Sometimes his sigh at such beauty went down too far.
Do you know where I lived before I found you?
He asked once as we sat on cold stones
watching fireflies, Joseph inside with the little ones.
I breathed long and answered. No, my love, I don’t.
I scanned his face with my eyes: a spark, a smile I didn’t know,
as if his chest’s glow might burst, blind me in its radiance.
We never spoke in metaphors: Not light of the world,
not cornerstone, not sacrificial lamb.
When I found him at his studies, face down toward
Isaiah’s words, he looked at me and laughed.
For my sake? I wondered. His own shock?
A memory of the words he would fulfill?
he chose. How to follow the child you raised?
How to warm yourself in his light
without catching flame and melting?
Drink his blood, eat his flesh, beg his body
to release from the wood it lay torn upon.
Recognize the great pain he’d always carried,
how his split soul all along was mending mine.