It was like the time my mother failed to describe what it feels like to hear a baby cry. I kept furrowing my brow, till finally she ran her fingers through my bangs and said, “It doesn’t have to make sense yet.”

Only this time it was dad. He caught me eavesdropping on his call about a quarantined man. I overheard phrases which felt troublesome: divorced alcoholic, blood in stool, fluid in lungs, shivering cold beneath innumerable sheets. Dad spoke of how the man would never leave the place.

Just then, my father spotted me. He ended the call, crouched down, looked in my eyes, and tried to explain endless suffering. My brow kept furrowing deeper, till he finally smiled, rubbed my shoulders and said, “It doesn’t have to make sense just yet.” Then grandpa called us out to the backyard for the most wonderful barbecue ever.

like all others before and since
where a clean breeze keeps
arriving cool on the cheek
early evening
yonder orange marrying blue
sun rays lighting on skin
without offensive burning
no need for lotion or shade
welcome, welcome

a brick-red picnic table on
a smooth-gray concrete patio
aproned by flowerbeds
blooming, swaying
grass a day shy of needing
cut, making all falls comical
a lawn for friendly games
pets barking, purring, hopping
their moods tuned to family
laughter, laughter

Dad hunkered over the grill, eyes fixed on his task. At the table, lip-smacking chatter lobbed back and forth over potato salad and Jell-O, lyricizing absent sons and undeniable daughters. Dad only interjected once, after the housekeeper remarked about the order of Melchizedek. He turned his head toward the table, raised a finger, smiled and said, “No, you’re thinking of the order of Enoch.” A moment later, grandpa sent dad down the hill with a root beer for my older brother, who was too covered in mulch to join us at the picnic table just yet. Family barbecues always occasion someone going off by themselves to finish a chore.

the finest meat crackles
grease bursting from the tips
caramelizing honeyed sauce
on tender breasts and thighs
grilled, as raised, to perfection
offered, offered
the best dishes prepared
by hands which love through
deeds, decrees, and savoring
children who cannot know
costs of time and talent in
fulness, fulness

these are they whose heaven is
a neighborhood with no surprises
these are they who canonize
photo albums and recipe books
shedding heirlooms on the young
dwelling, dwelling
beneath the blue dome, ever
toward the orange rim
rolling, rolling

these are they for whom
it all finally makes sense


Poet’s Notes:

This poem completes a trio exploring the three degrees of glory. Also try these:

Thy Terrestrial Kingdom Come

Thy Telestial Kingdom Come

Featured image is by distelAPPArath on Pixabay.