Sometimes I wish I still waitressed at Pug’s bar.
You turned tables, drank your shiftie, another
at a friend’s joint, a flocking party
of well-groomed crows who loved glitz, coke, crosswords –
maybe fucked then went home with cash which you stored
in two yogurt containers in your nightstand:
one for rent, one for everything else.
Pietà would have drawn a blank, although
I’d seen it in Spain, obedient student
of cultural capital, a trek to scorch
lack, native crop of flyover towns.
But sometimes I rebelled, as with these dopes
Mary and Jesus and Mary and Jesus.
I tired of it, gaudy religion: Jesus
hung forward like a piece of Mary
unpeeled, her abdomen flopped like a steak.
Marx was right, this was some old world opiate
of obvious pain – I returned to the bars.
But today I nursed my small daughter,
quiet with eyes closed in steady pleasure,
having just learned hunger and its cessation,
drifting to sleep; the confidence of habit
now second-nature to us both, I
realize I cradle her like Mary
grainy photo of infants in Damascus
gathered after the chemical fog cleared
white numbered shrouds with faces kept bare
waiting to be picked up by their mothers
Jesus, what is second-nature but bending
until one is overlaid with another –
Stabat Mater Dolorosa, knives
sheathed seven times in your heart, help me.