Saint Jerome Rides the T

Our lives unraveling in rain, late Sunday
in March, on a platform of the T, we hug
and wave goodbye to sons reared
to manhood, who turn away and disappear,
reminding us of the shame of knowing
we’re redundant and crude, perhaps even
a little deranged. Paula, forgive me
for my constant complaint. In a painting
of your saint in the wilderness of Phrygia,
the days of miracles had already ended
and would never be restored. Groves
would never again teem with crowds,
the cured, the healed, voices of children
at play. It seemed so brief, that moment
fulfilled even as it broke my heart. A stone
in my fist, I pound my chest, the lion inside
my clouds of doubts, the sagging flesh
upon its crooked timbers. I never grasped
the erotic, though you urged, baring
your shoulders, the deep curving hollow
of your back, long hair unbound.
Paula, I cannot undo my vows
to this solitude, this umber murk,
underworld our grim maker rendered
with few scumbled brushstrokes, the tiny
confines of nature, and no anti-nature
gleaming beyond its border. We count
each station as it passes—seven more stops
to terminus. And seal our tongues tight
against the roofs of our mouths, trying
to stifle what we know is already lost
and therefore becoming words,
impure always, wayward, confused,
and mistranslated by every generation.

David Axelrod‘s most recent collections of poems are Folly and What Next, Old Knife, both from Lost Horse Press. Individual poems and essays have appeared recently or are forthcoming in High Desert Journal, Miramar, Serving House Journal, Stringtown, Talking River Review, Terrain, and Western Humanities Review, among others.