In communal auscultation,
we listen to the umbilical roar,
the swish and clutch of blood
pushing back on itself,
as if the force of it has hit rock.
When nothing more can be done,
there is a pause,
as we pretend to decide
it can or cannot be otherwise.

We don’t believe an unbaptized child
will linger neither here nor there.
Nonetheless, when a nurse
asks in the delivery room,
we agree to the cross
drawn on our son’s flushed head
with a tight-gloved hand,
wanting to give him
everything he would ever have.
If she had offered him
a pony or a letter jacket,
his brief name stitched in blue script,
we would have said yes
in the same  way.

A funeral director warns
not to spread the teaspoon of ashes
in a public stadium,
or, at least, conspicuously.

The recent Vatican decree
by stiff, black frocks
and tonic voices pronounced
that limbo is at best a theory
and not a truth.
This distinction is lost on us
in the brown days that flock
like pigeons snapping upward
from a waterless fountain, a stone square,
to settle back close to where they left,
but not exactly there.


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