73: coma, canto 22

canto 22

yes, reader, we
Lucy and I and You
and home in my place,
my place of rest where a fly persisted
like a black asteroidal and astral
bird, persisted
through a column
of slanted window light
and Lucy, in her room
fingered her things
with her small butter
hands, I thought of Henry
and the whales and the elephants and cranes
on his back and his hands,
all in all of the red speckles of him:

how, I, brought by an ex
girlfriend to a study group,
where Henry sat between college
students in buttondown shirts,
chips in bowls,
softdrinks in their plastic yokes
on skyblue table cloths,
he a student himself.
I sat with my girl facing the leader,
who wore a lion-colored chincurtain beard
and whose shiny head caught
the overhead lamps,
and persisted, while many wrote
notes, nodded, tapped their pencils
or pens, wrote, tapped, erased,
wrote more, with simple truths,
saying: the first thing is to believe
in him and trust in scripture
for it is sole, all you need,
sola scriptura, and at the sound
of the terms sola scriptura
the girl beside me let forth
a sapling thin air of agreeableness
and I raised my hand
and asked the chincurtained leader
if I could ask a question and he
asked my name and I said my name
and said I was new and ignorant
of the formalities of bible groups
and he said that was beautiful
and yes I could ask
my question and I asked:
what is sola scriptura?
He answered: it’s all you need,
meaning scripture.
And I asked him it’s all you
need for what?
Salvation, he said, for in scripture,
he said, there is something sufficient
for all people and all people
are sufficient enough to know
a sufficiency for salvation,
and more beautiful still, he said,
scripture will show the reader,
show the thinker, reveal itself
those gems of knowing
enough for holiness,
for the scripture is a fountain,
he said, bursting with the spirit
of god, and I thanked him
for his answer, feeling the girl
beside me quivering
and the others scribbling
and Henry with an obvious
dove made by the speckles of his
forehead, but, this Henry
had enslendered the lids
of his eyes, watching,
suspecting that the devil
had come and did not mean
thank you for the answer
thank you thank you thank you

no, so he watched me,
and I asked the leader if he
would bear yet another question
as I told him all the others
here were scribbling so hard so had no time
for a question or two
and he said, yes, yes, ask,
and I asked: how did he know
about this sola and was he sufficient
to know sufficiency when he saw it?
Where, also, I asked, did he uncover
such a vast knowing of the human
mechanism to infer with such a mastery
so much more sufficient and authentic
than so many armies of scholars
seated in their paper-surrounded
desks, seated, siting back and weeping
over their estranged brains
and the reason for all the hatred,
love, poverty, and lying out there?
And, I asked (Henry with his big fists
fisted and his big eyes rawer
around the rims
than fresh sirloin
around a bone)
did he think that maybe
the scriptures were perhaps
some trick of history whose door is indeed shut,
for what did people do, how did they die,
how did they get along and sow the soil
prior to their writing?

but he, the teacher,
would, being the teacher,
not be so easily written off,
and he said: first you must believe;
you must have trust, as in Deuteronomy
that says the word of god is your life
and the showings of Micah
where what was revealed was good
and Paul in Timothy’s call for faith and conviction.

but as to Moses, I said,
did he live under the thumb
of Assyria? Did he come to a sleeping
Isaiah or Josiah and give the words
for writing and ofter a stick of charcoal
for recording;
oh Moses blessed
this and that, maybe, I said, but how do you
know? First, he said, this teacher,
with conviction,
you must have faith
and the book will ring true–
and that’s when I laughed
and I laughed at him, the teacher,
laughed at his beard,
laughed at the girl beside me,
yes I laughed but not loudly,
no, more so just a soft laugh,
a laugh that wondered why
this teacher avoided my question
and why Henry, when the meeting
let and my girl became my exgirl,
who refused my eyes, my hand,
thereafter, saying,
you’re just an embarrassment,
but Henry stopped me
on the street and said, with that
little red dove on his face,
a red dove in pointillism
where a cyclopes’ eye should be,

he said, Would you want to get a beer?
And that’s how we became friends.

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