I believe the witnesses of these things.
I believe the song not sung at Babylon riverside. I
believe in don’t cry, scream. You and your word.
The history of a charcoal fire, fine fish and thick
bread. I believe Hosanna, Alleluia, kudos, mazel
tov, joy, transubstantiation, disputation, sorrow
crows, notary publics. I believe in garments whiter
than snow. Whirlwind blooming.
I believe in Western Avenue car dealerships, Halsted
Street gay bars, Clark Street taquerias, storefront
Madison Street churches, vast vacant South Side lots
of buildings disappeared, labyrinth Lower Wacker
Drive, South Water Market, Peanuts Park, Loretto
Hospital, the gas bursting into air out of Bubbly Creek,
the clots of high schoolers, dopey with youth, in
McDonald’s in mid-afternoon, the ostentatious simple
of Daniel Burnham’s grave, the painting of Msgr. Long
posed as St. Edward in the circle high up in St. Martin de
Porres Church, the pew there where the two who made
me vowed to wed, the tunnel of el tracks along Lake
Street that my 12-year-old brother, unlost, walked home
seven miles to avoid asking for help. Who would answer?
Listen, I believe meniscus tear.
I believe the echo of the name-caller, the stained glass
shattering, the crumbling of the eucharistic Saltine. I
believe the red priest sermon, the baby’s prayer for
salvation. Peasant pugilism, I believe. Gospel cockfights.
I believe I ask three times. The thunder out of White
Mountain, out of the Church of the Holy Innocent, out of
the Leamington gangway, the signboards weeds, the
Blacktop glass glitter in sunrise, the deaf girl who was my
playmate once, the aroma of incense rising to the darkness
in the ceiling of the apse. Walls shaken, my brother’s
forlorn bullet. I believe lightning.
You want to know what I believe?
The yearn, turn, of the baby to light — the reach to hope.