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"Where the Feeble Senses Fail"
                          -Tantum Ergo

A tight-fisted dowager now in her dotage
inhabits Don Pedro Street like houses
nest in safe little clusters.

She rises before the six o'clock Mass,
before the sparrows twitter their gossip,
before the giant O assumes a skin of margarine.

Mother-of-pearl necklace, gold and stoned
brooches of green and ochre, this elderly virgin
made ready for the body of Christ.

Black soot thick as snot smears her hanky
as the Rockwell dust settles atop her
durable wood: objets d'art and antiques from Java.

And like an unexpected phone call,
Bloomington, Indiana, returns as swift as heartbreak
as if heartbreak makes exiles of us all.

And longing for some human hand
allows her to harbor this one secret. In her room
the hi-fi spins a scratched LP with a song

her soldier father would sing,
replete with lament, a ballad to dust
about a doting prodigal finding his way home.

No one will tell him the ship has sailed.
No one to tell him where to lay his hat.
A vendor chants, Boiled baby duck eggs,

in her room the record skips, a saved tooth
waits for her father's mortar and pestle,
dark laces clasp her boot with four eyelets,

and tulips in the far Middle West
dress a yard somewhere in Indiana,
some are gold like watches, others pink as blouses.