blackbird online journal spring 2002 vol.1 no. 1


audio version


Apparition of the Virgin

If there’s a crack of thunder
without an attending rumble,
a great man is about to die.
If, in your dream, your clothes are flecked
with mud, or if a plant speaks to you,
expect days when love inhabits you
but is not apparent in the world,
even as others pause to let you pass,
attempting to be visible in your presence.
When the main god is a martyr, the world
is in pain. We’re mirthful
in the bistro, tasting each other’s dinners
since we suspect the taste of our own.
Later we drive to get a good look
at the apparition of the Virgin.
She’s appearing in a window at the hospital,
moisture trapped between panes. We can clearly see
the baby in her arms, the folds of her robe,
the hem indistinct with dirt.
Along the foundation of the wall, prayers.
Please make my parents stop fighting.
Please save the missing children.
If you dream of rain, and on awaking it is August,
expect days of wine that create visions.
The grapes are swelling beyond themselves.
Expect images wavering in the rising cisterns.
But we’re the things in motion, materializing,
arriving on the scene with reporters.
There is so much traffic at the hospital,
they drape the window until evening.
She is holding a hidden god in her arms,
we can clearly see he is just suggesting himself.
He is hidden in the world, so too in humans.
But we want to find, to delight
in the moist image, to depend on it.
A surgeon stares into the viscera.
A radiologist peers at a spot.
We must make way for the cutting and healing.
No matter, during off hours,
we stare at the curtain.  

(reprinted by permission of Houghton-Mifflin Company)

return to top