A fallen priest on a shuttle flight
padding the holes in his resume
looks down and sees Manhattan as Babel
built on bedrock and whistling in the wind.
He’d ingested descriptions of Gomorrah
and vowed not to lie with the swine,
an earnest but dubious intention, like a boy
with webbed hands forswearing masturbation.
Propped in confessional, coin-slot gypsy
working Wakefield’s flock without effect,
his mechanical arm allotted dispensation
for sins that made his vitals ache,
his collared understanding crave the light.
How to counsel salesmen on fidelity, virgins
on the roots of desire? Other voices
had announced his calling, but the scream
that tore the darkness was his own.
So, in the Oak Room of the Plaza, surrounded
by dowagers waiting opulently on death,
his mind turns elegant perversities:
he is naked, bearer of bread and fishes,
plying a gospel of swift return. Offered
a sanctum with mirrors, he will say,
it is always the living who are saved.