When I Found the Pontiff

at midnight, firstfruits
April 13, 2012
Josephus Eats a Peach
April 26, 2012

How sick the Father sits at desk amid a candle flame. It is eleven sometime soon, and the clock tower bellows from its iron lungs.

There in the palace, the miter hive retires, atop the bullish oak. There, the beeswax candles drip on woven rugs. Darkness swells around him, filling apse and leaning on the smoky hearth. How silly, that papal swan, wrapped in white gold, bedazzled, and eyes as dull as dust. He thinks on moral claims as light as air: the wind-drawn wisps of theology at play. While murders are convened, under foot and under doors.

Sighs usher from his fleshy lungs, and then, a tactile calm. The candle falters by his breath.

Bitter and consigned to throne and chambers all alone, I wonder what he thinks and what he thinks he should. For it is no majesty to be successor to the Christ. And perhaps neither is it possible for a frail farmer who fell in love with eating much, and is a faithful alcoholic.

I’ll thank you to remember his high office, though: the clerical clout, the utmost pomp, the names and titles given. There is more than meets the miter about that miserable man. What, after all, do we know of that charge? What have we ever known of love’s austere and lonely office?


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