DB home Patrick Donnelly

Sweet for All Souls

His huge mother sweats, turns
to count my change,
slowly, slowly, breathing hard
as she rolls her chair to the register
behind the scratched glass counter.
The smell of burning sugar
vents from ovens in back,
over me, out to the street
where they are hanging lights
for the festival.
Out the window, in the middle
of my life, in Brooklyn,
in autumn, in the afternoon
of the century,
some poor soul has scribbled
thick, black magicmarkings:
Sick, really? of everything?
Of ossi di morti, these yearly
bones of the sacred dead
turned to sweet meringues
you can pop in your mouth?
Sick of Ettore, the baker's son, just today
sixteen in baseball cap and baggy shorts,
blond feather on his lip, brick
of Tuscan gold from tip to toe?
who assembles my box from nothing,
knots the string and clips it
with hands of such deft and clever caramel?
who once washed his car in the street,
shirtless chest bright as
the resurrection of our Lord?
the little sweets in his hands
shake the thrones of the saints,
they enlarge my heart--

this sickness is my master,
I groan on his bed,
I swell and fall,
I never rise
-Patrick Donnelly