We present this work in honor of the 50th anniversary of the poet’s death.
Bundled their bones, upon ninety-nine stairs –
St. Joseph’s ladder – the knobs of penance come,
the folded cripples counting up their prayers.
How rich, how plumped with blessing is that dome!
The gourd of Brother André! His sweet days
rounded! Fulfilled! Honeyed to honeycomb!
Whither the heads, upon the ninety-nine trays,
the palsied, who double their aspen selves, the lame,
the unsymmetrical, the dead-limbed, raise
their look, their hope, and the idée fixe of their maim,
knowing their surgery’s in the heart. Are not
the ransomed crutches worshipers? And the fame
of the brother sanatorial to this plot?
God mindful of the sparrows on the stairs?
Oh, to their faith this mountain of stairs, is not!
They know, they know, that suddenly their cares
and orthopedics will fall from them, and they
will stand whole again.
Roll empty away, wheelchairs,
and crutches, without armpits, hop away!
And I who in my own faith once had faith like this,
but now have not, am crippled more than they.