Bernadette in Transit
New city. New experience. Streetcar!
First glance: mistook her for Mary.
Who could tell? One good
chipped, just a bit of
Weren’t Mary’s eyes always blue on the cover of the missalette?
Bernadette’s too, apparently.
Nearby: St. Peter on his rock.
Nearby: Christ, reclining, scary-lifesize.
Nearby: His Sacred Heart, Sacre-Couer protruding
from a banner, three nice drops of his embroidered blood. . .
—Bush Antiques, New Orleans.
(Meanwhile, on the edge of town. . . )
(Meanwhile, long ago. . . )
[Until I decide what I want,]
fill this space]
first, not thinking of her.
saying, don’t think of her.
simply, she’s too much.
(My mother, by bus, came to the edge of this town.)
(To a space apart.)
[A box of waiting.]
how might I use her? Practical now.
more ominously, how am I like her?
just, what is her provenance?
my good reason?
good bed but bad pillows.
Sightseeing. Refolding the map. . .
complain a little and enjoy myself.
(At the edge of town she did things as cheaply as possible.)
[Meanwhile, from her left arm]
wire protruding where her hand]
party you’re calling is not available.
leave a message after the tone: ”
Fairmont Hotel voice mail
I could get used to.
(Best Western. Two story, outside corridor. Coffee shop, preferably.)
(Maybe she arrived late and kept it together)
(long enough to catch a cab.)
= $95, s&h = $80]
what sound does a saint make? Original
sure, her throat, God’s ——, no doubt.
what sound does a saint in a box make?
the UPS man listens as I will soon:
three red streaks (left breast. spray paint? not
too careful.), go high-pitched and electrical.
(More and more, she had experiences alone.)
(Of course, I’ve told her nothing)
#16242: large plaster statue.]
[Pretty sure she’s in the box now.]
reading about Bernadette:
nothing. Then 18 visions
“call me the Immaculate Conception,”
and the necessary testimony.
This was Lourdes.
the then of it got to be too much,
she went back to cholera, so common:
often fatal . . . characterized by . . .
blah blah . . . and collapse.”
sainthood and her incorruptible body:
times exhumed: with a sweet odor and
victorious over the laws of nature.”
statue, however, is in its own collapse:
chips along the folds of her dress and veil.
she’s been through—
(One now is my mother remembering she was fine alone.)
(One now, a little later, is my reaction. . . )
(Meanwhile is just another way of saying, life goes on.)
[So where is she? Has she been]
More of the back home. Normal life.
The receipt arrives. Bernadette is imminent.
The garden isn’t ready: snow: some clean,
some darkening . . . as around her eyes,
her photo readily available:
is what a saint looks like. . .
(In this space at least, compassion.)
(What she’s been through.)
this one, what I don’t know.]
God, protector of the humble,
that I may —
. . and be deserving of —
(But if it were possible)
(could she be among)
of how to proceed.
photo, one in particular,
stays with me.
(Not that my mother is a saint.)
(Only that she has suffered.)
[January 8, 2002: Bernadette]
instructions say: inspect this.
crown of her head (no crown
though; just cold) peeks out
among the packing peanuts.
(My mother, however, — )
is a box]