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Poem: Communion of saints

 

 

Communion of saints

By Patrick T. Reardon

 

 

Under the red Christmas tree,

she arranges a communion of saints.

 

In the DMV line,

a communion of saints: two teenagers in love.

 

A communion of saints,

electric with purpose,

heads for lunch

on noon Michigan Avenue sidewalks.

 

Through his Vietnam memories

float awkwardly a communion of saints.

 

After Lane Tech football, in the parking lot,

a communion of saints

— jammed in the CTA subway car,

in the Aldi’s line,

living among the lost tribes,

strung out along the marathon route,

in the Graceland tomb,

applauding at the ballet,

in cardboard walls along Lower Wacker Drive,

blinded by moonlight,

found in the flood,

on a conference call,

after the whirlwind,

in the camp.

 

Read this list of those laid-off:

a communion

of saints.

 

Shouldering each other, hipping, angling,

a chaos of reporters clot

a communion of saints

for the sound bite.

It’s a job.

 

Stiff, thick and distant,

a communion of saints lines

the morning-glint basilica cupola.

 

The haloed birdman of Assisi:

“I am the greatest sinner.”

 

Avila’s haloed, Bernini-ed ecstatic,

she too.

 

Lisieux’s little flower knew her guilt,

though haloed.

 

Peter’s wrong,

cock-crowed thrice.

 

Communion of sinners.

 

On the long Oak Street beach sand,

in thick afternoon heat,

the bare sweat-sheen skin of a communion of saints.

 

In the jury pool at 26th and California,

a communion of saints fidgets.

 

All those people on your reliable wireless network

structure a communion of saints.

 

In his dust bannered-basement,

a communion of saints,

watching alone the Bears.

 

At State and Lake,

a rush-hour communion of saints

hustles up and down elevated station stairs.

 

My sweet, wounded brother

voted his guilt with his gun.

 

He marked his ballot

with a bullet hole and his pure blood

on backyard rain-snow grass and cement.

 

The White Sox roster, a communion of saints —

 

everyone in the Chicago City Council,

everyone on United Flight 5253 from Albuquerque,

all of the New Trier students moving between classes,

 

each person who stops

at Gallery 238 in the Art Institute of Chicago,

to puzzle the terra cotta “Adoration of the Christ Child,”

created five hundred years ago

by the workshop of Andrea della Robbia,

soft and delicate as grief,

 

all of us rising in this therapy elevator at 30 N. Michigan,

everyone who finds out today test results,

every baby born at Northwestern Memorial Hospital,

and golfer at Columbus Park,

and everyone trying on an awkward prom dress,

and every sleeping baby,

and cop bending bulkily out of the squad,

and communicant,

and inmate,

Trump and Clinton,

everyone cumbersome with fear,

nun and hit man,

water and wine,

everyone numb,

everyone singing “Twist and Shout,”

everyone singing “I and I,”

everyone singing “Howl,”

every cheering voice,

 

and everyone, frayed and serene,

in blue-gold Alden Family Reunion t-shirts

in the Thaddeus S. “Ted” Lechowicz Woods picnic grove,

in the Cook County forest preserve,

off Central, near Elston.

 

List (partial) of those born innocent —

Hitler, Manson, Vlad, serial killers,

Wilkes Booth, Pol Pot, genociders,

torturers, Nero, Torquemada, enslavers,

Ivan, Roy Cohn, profiteers, Stalin………….

 

A communion of saints swarms

the blond-bright wood frame out west, past Aurora,

transmuting into a 3,598-square-foot single-family

on Stonehaven Circle, list price: $510,000.

 

A communion of saints,

shot over the weekend.

 

Dan Ryan, bumper to bumper,

a communion of saints —

power-walking the mall circuit,

behind the counter at McDonald’s,

on the river trail bike path,

smoking outside Emporium in 2 a.m. Wicker Park,

renting shoes at Waveland Bowl,

writing poems,

writing tickets,

over the moon,

waiting for the laundromat dryer to cycle,

feeling the urgency,

under the thumb,

under the wire,

under the weather,

all those breaking the bread.

 

In the law firm conference room,

a communion of saints

signs the divorce.

 

At the ward office meeting, a communion of saints

gets marching orders for precinct work.

 

This night, a communion of saints will suicide.

 

At the Thanksgiving table,

place cards set for a communion of saints.

 

Yellow-vest parking meter techs,

five-year-olds picking at Happy Meals,

the make-upped guy in Starbucks,

uncomfortable in the dress he knows looks good on him,

Streets and San guys bowling in Mount Greenwood,

every lost lamb,

every saved soul,

all kissing women —

a communion of saints —

us and them,

flesh and blood,

quick and dead,

moth and rust,

cowboys and Indians,

every alley-dweller,

each of us who stumbles,

the children of the children’s children,

seventy times seven,

all nations of earth,

all small and great creatures.

 

The fourth grader dreams a communion of saints

as she melts crayons on the silver school radiator

away from Sister’s watch.

 

Everyone coming warily, angrily, hurriedly,

out of anesthetic,

everyone in the Lyric Opera, even mute supernumeraries,

every newly hired garbage worker,

every frayed teacher,

a communion of saints —

all of us riding escalators

at the James R. Thompson Center,

all of us ignoring the beggar,

all of us on the reservation,

all of us reading Song of Solomon,

all of us reading the Song of Songs,

all of us singing “Song of Myself,”

each one of us under the gun,

each of us uncertain,

all of us yearning,

all of us aching,

all of us feeling the tock and the tick.

 

 

Patrick T. Reardon

3.2.20

 

This poem was originally published by San Antonio Review on 2.16.20.

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