Saturday, May 9, 2009

Tobias Says Goodbye to his Father


I remember I had read something from Tobit,
But the last line was missing from the text.
I had not realized it until, staring down,
I knew the script was missing something important.

So I read it with a cadence that would make it seem complete.

It seemed at the moment quite like life.

Here I was, an honored man, asked to read a bit of Old Testament
Scripture during a wedding in Atlanta.
And, lo, a line was missing.

I thought for a moment that I might make something up.

But what could a jester add to the comedy of Tobit?
Nothing.

So, I read the last line and emphasized the wrong words,
Paused, said something about the Word of the Lord
And exited the stage--just shy of Fortinbras' entrance
Demanding the disaster be covered o'er with a pomp and circumstance
My rented tuxedo belied..

Being with child, and wanting my wife, for once, to enjoy
The joy that attends a wedding,
I took my youngest, restless, curious, and full of life,
Outside.

There, at the bottom of the steps I witnessed something singular:

Looking up to street-level I saw a man, in a long coat I something envied
Deposited from a fat yellow cab upon a rain-slicked walk.
He wore also a hat and scarf, the colors of which were dark and tasteful--
I could tell even from where I was below.

He paid the driver, had some talk, turned, and, straightening his hat,
Walked to the grand doors of the Cathedral.

I thought then that Coleridge's Mariner might accost him, but no-one appeared.
He paused, and then opened gently the door--and light spilled from within,
Illuminating briefly an infinite triangle (in all dimensions a kind of diamond) of grey
Speckled with rain and fluffy cotton-balls of snow.

Before he entered I noted he removed his hat
And the expiration of his breath reminded me briefly of mortality.

His hair was a silver-white in that seeming late-night light
And I thought: How I hope to be so distinguished someday.
Perhaps I will wear eye-glasses like that too.

Perhaps I shall live so long.

And then he disappeared.

Presumably, he went to join the wedding feast.
The Bride and Bride-Groom rosy in the rush of nuptial ceremony
Would later lead us to a reception where they did not fail to offer
The best wine first, second, and last.

I asked someone who had also seen him,
This distinguished man,
Entering stealthily into a marriage-vow
Just before the seal was sealed, and I discovered

I knew him:

His name was Peter, and he came because he knew them--

The Bride and Groom.

This Fisherman, lover, husband, founder--his orphans spread far and wide--
It was rumored, would never miss a wedding:

But had never seen a birth.

(Image: Tobias Saying Good-Bye to his Father. Painting by William-Adolphe Bouguereau
(1860)).

9 comments:

Katy said...

Well done, Greg - I like this a lot.

gregorbo said...

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Excellent. You captured the moment beautifully. Thank you for sharing it!

Love always,
Em

Linda Verlander said...

I wish I could say more but for lack of time and not wanting to skip a comment - I think this is great. I am still happy to have recognized the scenario (even though I wasn't there!). I still need to read it and more thoroughly digest, especially the very end. At any rate...keep it up!

-Linda

gregorbo said...

Thanks, I'm trying. Have a great great great trip to Rome. Kiss the Vatican for me!

Katy said...

Mmmm. Marbly.

The Vatican, that is. Not your poem so much. Though I guess that makes me not such a great intellectual. I should be able to argue a connection between ANY two things, right?

(By the way, I realize "marbly" isn't a word, but then again, neither is "pangly," which is my word verification word. That's all. Carry on.)

gregorbo said...

That's funny--because when I was trying to come up with a description of the cab, I thought of "marbly." But then I rejected it, as it's not a word. . . hm.

Brat.

Katy said...

Is brat a word? Not sure I've ever heard it - certainly never out of my mother's mouth.

Anonymous said...

I think when your Mom uses 'brat,' it means she loves you--in a hatey sort of way.

gregorbo