Paul used to say that I should seek God
in the loneliest places. While the subway
ground along firing sparks, I lobbed
my school-tie behind me, St. Peter’s stone.
He said to watch the driver sway,
glide toe to heel, a holy piston
pumping the rail. I drank and crooned
into beer cans, inflated brown bags
in both hands, popped them like balloons.
We took the F train to the beach,
the Ferris wheel to heaven. I tagged
our cart with daisy crowns. God’s sheep
flocking below appeared to kneel —
joggers in ball caps, the dark, foreshortened
great coats, black hats of Hasidim, teal
track suits, gold slickers, silver-horned
boom-boxes, Kangols and bandanas,
clear plastic bonnets, old men in fedoras —
the whole slow Coney Island crowd, the last
come first, crept by on their knees, and each
direction drew its pilgrim’s compass.
Paul’s scrip — perverse black bag — hauled East
to east, beyond Golgotha’s squared-off teeth,
to some fermented eagle’s nest
hung above Seoul. He thanked me later
for Gateless Gate — and his folks blame me —
but I gave the books to make him moderate.
The monastery keeps him quiet
now; I forget he hasn’t died. Is silence so
dramatic? No less than hazing tides
or lecturing a crowded beach,
but I prefer it here below,
beside the Ferris wheel’s iron sweep.