_____________________following a Catholic superstition
Because the manger won’t sell, Mother advises
burying St. Joseph out back in the garden.
Nearly a year in arrears, I return
To hug children, map out futures with an X,
slink back into the emptiness of a house that’s hexed.
Of ghosts in their faithful guises
one dreams from a pillow upon the floor
that country hushed with sprinklers & falling sparrows
& oils seeping soothly into the ear,
wakes, startled upon stairs
scaling sheer vacancy. Which father
is it whom has arrived? Foul or fair
or simply at a loss to conceive
of those many not quite original sins
how best to suffer to make amends.
He walks the rooms in which children
slept, were sick, carries their brief
forms from memory back into his arms.
It is a ruined house & he
is its haunting. Of guilty self
is the tremor in his left hand
gripped upon plastic St. Joseph
planned toward some final impiety
as yet unsown unto the promised land.