Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Amazing Grace

(for Liam Knight - August 28, 1992-January 6, 1999)

When we've been there ten thousand years
bright shining as the sun,
We've no less days to sing God's praise
than when we first begun.

You all know the words to this song,
said Evelyn, coming forth from the piano
in San Ysidro church, filling now
with tearful mourners to the santo-painted
walls, leaving the aisle clear to roll the little casket,
for it was the funeral of a child.

Amazing grace, she sang then in her
valiant soprano, and I sang along
a line or two, then trailed off, hushed
by solemn silence of the crowd.
We are all too stunned to sing.

I never knew this child, although I had
observed the father with his sons;
an ordinary outing, only weeks ago,
before this unhappy new year.

I don't know why I memorized their faces,
how their bodies looked like Al's,
but that their open eagerness appealed to me,
now that my own have grown into a world
of deep complexity, predicaments
I never dreamed I'd face. Raising boys to men--
a thorny task, not wholly spiritual.

It makes no sense, though we might know
the facts of it, how it happened that
a small child playing under scaffolding,
commonplace tool of his father's trade,
should lose his life--when on that very plot
of ground, not many years ago another smiling,
smaller boy fell down beneath the turning
tires of his father's truck--and was lost.

Two fathers here, and two sons gone, and now
this white-robed Father celebrates the mass
of resurrection.

(Might Sam have reached a hand to Liam
and pulled him through to play
in the fields of the Lord?
such thoughts unsaid this day--

Still I recall the burial of another
tiny boy in San Ysidro cemetery.
Emily had nearly thrown herself
into the grave with the fuzzy blue box
that held her beloved grandson,
who leapt from life on an electric current.
Vincent was the arc grounding his soul to the earth--
a storm, a puddle, a short in the circuit--
this is the puzzle left to the living.

Hinder not the little ones,
but let them come to Me,
intones the priest,
likening unnatural deaths of children
to the Father's plucking of a rose in the garden
of sweet life, too soon to bloom.

Let them come, we nod,
but let them go--no.

It makes no sense, we cannot be assuaged
by reassurance that the Mind of God knows all,
so this is meant to be. A mother knows,
a child is much more than a rose.

Linda Weissinger Lupowitz 2000

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