John of Patmos lived on an island, and who in the age
of broken trust does not. Moonlight beats the shattered
beach, and it must have been lonely, waiting for God,
for the curve of the horizon to send a horse. If, beneath
the sun, a mirage across the water gave birth to lions,
any wonder the sea rose, the island dwindled. Longing
for news like a soul for a body, one body for a mate,
any wonder he saw the shoreline eaten by the waves.
Those nights I kept vigil beside my mother, I saw her
eyes open, now and then, and I could not see if I was there,
her gaze so thin, like a paper cut. Sometimes a yawn.
Sometimes a lion of the apocalypse, only smaller,
fiercer. What if it is nothing, she asked. What was I
to say, I who believed in something better for her sake.
And as I walked in darkness to my car, I smelled something
burning. Leaves, I thought, and wind gone out to meet them.
My worry makes me taller, more fatherly, suspicious
of pride and thereby prouder, so who am I to say, I
worry about John. If he ate crickets and watercress
and slept an hour, here and there, doubtless he longed
to be a better man. But when he emerged, bearing news,
I wonder, did the casualties of men make him a better
listener. He must have felt the blister of all that fire, his
personal hell, I say, and who am I, I wonder. Who.