Fare well

By Patrick T. Reardon

At Ainslie and Clark,

he sees the clouds open

to the dark and sparkling of space,

back to the mass of energy in the beginning.


     Hear the call of the thunder.

     Cross to green forests.

     Hear the horn blow.

     Awake, you careless people.


He says: When my body lays down, bury me

in the soil, in the ocean, in the mountain snow.


Dust and ashes under the chariot wheel.

Funeral feast at Denny’s.


     Fare well, fare well.


He hears the crows of suffering.

He keeps priestlike appointments.


In the Loop, he preaches

the gospel of thalmic matter,

brain matter, matter of fact,

nothing is the matter.


He kneels for the Pledge of Allegiance.

He kneels for the Holy Egg McMuffin.


Breath, mere breath.


He sees hawk flight, the footprint of his mother

in cement in front of Leamington —

a spasmodic gesture out of character,

as if possessed a moment,

a shout to the cosmos

from safe silent corner.


In the afternoon church cool,

the monstrance exposition,

bread and gold,



He hears the Temple veil torn.


     All will be well,

     and all will be well,

     and every manner of thing will be well.


In new-turned soil in the median on Ashland,

he plants blank paper.


In her doorway, the sacristan is dead,

dining room table mounded with laundry,

the song’s translation.




Backup singers:


     Let the frogs rejoice,

     the dawn birds, the insect swarms,

     patterned noise, horde hum,



     Let the heel be lifted.

     (The awed one pilgrims her road.)

     Let the eyes be salved.

     (The awed one pilgrims her road.)

     Let hints of salvation snick at the edges.


A closed heart is a lost refrain.


Fire, fire.

Dry cold grit.


Patrick T. Reardon


This poem was originally published in All Shall Be Well: Poems for Julian of Norwich, edited by Sarah Law. It also appears in my newly published book of poetry Salt of the Earth: Doubts and Faith.

Written by : Patrick T. Reardon

For more than three decades Patrick T. Reardon was an urban affairs writer, a feature writer, a columnist, and an editor for the Chicago Tribune. In 2000 he was one of a team of 50 staff members who won a Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting. Now a freelance writer and poet, he has contributed chapters to several books and is the author of Faith Stripped to Its Essence. His website is https://patricktreardon.com/.

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