Starless night, cold gray fog creeping up steel posted gates;
In spaces of bowing heads and hands being held,
Shadows grow and withdraw under muffled haloed lights.
Creeping through the entrance, they all looked up to see
Guarding the gate; a damp dew dripping concrete statue
Standing with a heel on a serpent
an Archangel with flared wings wielding a sword.
Forever to be their best friend.
The witnesses passed by slowly. The children, carrying paper bag suitcases
In one hand and the other clasped tightly to each other.
Unpredictable darkness merges into a softly glowing doorway.
Their father quickly blesses himself
Whispering a Hail Mary, takes out four quarters.
Placing one in each daughter’s hand,
And slipping one in each boy’s pants pocket.
He gently knocks on a well-polished oak door.
Dim yellow light emerges.
Sister Saint Helen opens the vestibule.
Smiling, she places the paper bags on a large mahogany table,
Shushing them together, closing the heavy, silent, well oiled, orphanage door
She nods good-bye to the children’s father.
Sealed in, they become frightened like birds
With a broken wing.
Two bedroom flat above the American Legion, a band is playing downstairs.
Hat on the kitchen table, the young father sighs as he pops open a beer.
It’s been five years since the war.
Six years since he graduated High school
And, two years since the boy’s mother left them.
Acknowledging his inability
To come to grips with his situation;
Being abandoned by love, a turn of the cycle begins.
Tears blur his eyes; his heart sinks,
Then floats on Holy melancholy consolation.
(Forty years later, father having passed away in a veterans home)
I’m sending you, mother and father, your youngest son September 24, 2016
Welcome him to a place where the Butter nut tree
And the bitter-sweet is still called home.)