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Familiarity, My Husband

Apr. 25, 2010
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One morning in
the small Italian town
where we’re staying,
you discover the church door open.
Inside we find the body
of Saint Gregory,
his bones dressed
in embroidered satin
& we can’t help comparing him
to other  saints
we’ve seen in our travels:
Santa Lucia with her heap
of eyeglasses in Venice,
Mother Cabrini marooned
in the upper reaches of Manhattan,
St. Boniface, unfamous
apostle to the Germans.

Like the explorer
Sir Richard Burton--
we take ourselves with us
everywhere we go.
He traveled
all five continents,
learned a hundred languages.
By the time he wrote
his final book on Iceland
every rock he saw
was the shadow of a dozen others,
every word
had ten synonyms
in his cacophony of language.

In the end,
no one could understand
a thing he said.
-- not his most ardent reader.
-- not his wife Isabel who rarely traveled.

No one except God. One can always
hope for God.

&--I count my blessings--

I have you, too.

At least for this life;
at least for now.

Jesse Lee Kercheval is the author of 11 books of poetry, fiction and memoir including Cinema Muto which won this year's Posner Award from the Council of Wisconsin Writers. She  teaches creative writing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


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