This poem appears in the Spring 2021 issue of Modern Age. To subscribe, click here.

Detroit postpones the ballgame due to rain.
Rerouting cars, the cops make room for grey-haired
Salesmen to stumble from brewery to field,
Their slurs like tugs at dresses, turning heads
Of black-haired women in high heels and caps.
We pray for Henry Porter Baldwin’s soul,
And hear the bells of St. John ring above
The bass and flow of hip-hop shaking walls,
On that good Friday, when they nailed his wrists.
The limestone church, forgotten by the homeless
And scalpers, shelters choirs who still resound,
Under the influence of tongues of fire.
The priest pours wine and asks his God to send
Us new wineskins while chant moves us to kneel.
I rest my arms on pews designed for men
And boys of small estate who smelled the clouded
Incense and felt their own backs ache and heard
The priest recount his pilgrimage away
From booze to Holy Land, the station where
The hagglers shout and tourists laugh around
The pilgrims while they click their beads and pray.
I wince and wonder when the hours will end,
The spear will pierce his heart, and we will drive.
Back home to laugh and drink and break our fast.
Swing wide the gates, the choir sings and recalls
Me to my wife, who means the words and stands
For us to take our place amid thin lines.
We make our way up marble stairs and kneel
Before the king and cross to say our vow
And see our sin inside the garden’s gate:
I hear the crowd across the street applaud
And give the cross my thirty pieces’ kiss.
Then feeling for the crumbs I ask for grace
To hear the organ sound above the noise,
As I walk onto Woodward and set out—
A stranger in a sea of mirrored light.