for Donald Sheehan
This is the day of Hiroshima,
the flashpoint day of bodies, bright
as the briefest star. And
you remind me
that this day is also a high holy
the transfiguration, when Christ
on the mountain and in the company
disciples, became light just as
Japanese bodies became light.
I am sitting on a gray folding chair
thinking about connections—August
my God—the day my father died.
not taking my eyes from the compassion
in your face, I stumble back to
my tenth summer,
the phone call that blasted something
Suicide leaves survivors wanting
to explain it, the way even now
some cloaked guide to step from
of a casket saying:
is how it was.
Noontime, on the gentle slope of
a woman tells me on this day
last year, she set flowers and candles
adrift on a long river for the world.
And I wonder how, against the immensity
of Christ or of arms, incandescent
in a cruel
cloud, one small death can matter,
can share the same syllables in
the same vowels floating across
the vaporous air.
My father. My father.
Later, from one small bedroom window,
I watch the soft arching of Mt.
a blue sky and a cloud rising,
a lightning rod atop a cupola.
The day gathers itself: this festival,
Hiroshima, these hills, your voice,
and yes, Christ, in whom I may not
and the suicide of my father, all
into this pine-laden air, all rising
and igniting like candles,
like a procession of flowers and
over these wavering White Mountains.
Place, Franconia, New Hampshire)
© by Patricia Fargnoli