It was anybody’s son at the door
   in the dripping green slicker
      with the unsigned contract for selling my soul

to Holy-wood for a sack of gold
   the mere taxes on which would’ve once
      lit my greedy eyes with cartoon

dollar signs. The job was a trick I hoped
   to turn, having bankrupted myself on the dark,
      low-ceilinged box I lived in with plumbing from way

before Roosevelt. And as I looked for a pen
   I asked him in, and he asked to snapshot
       what he saw as my posh digs with battered camera

from a long lost pre-digital age. Cramming
  for his builder’s exam, he was, the terms
      cornice and chair rail were enchanted spells

he was proud to master. And this
   new messenger job—which kept him weaving
      between cabs and buses on this

thundered day, to stand in wet helmet
   in my foyer—beat like hell his last
      hauling bags of tacos up the graffitied

halls of public housing. Better wage,
   better tips, nicer rooms to imagine
      he might hammer together once

he got certified. He rode off in a zigzag,
   dodging a bus that belched smoke.
      You won’t believe his name was Jesus,

and I’d been weeks entreating the iron gray
   sky to see specifically Him. O Lord, last seen
       on battered mountain bike, green wings extended

behind in wind, come back, make me rich again.

Mary Karr’s most recent books of poetry and memoir are Sinners Welcome and Lit, respectively. She is the Peck Professor of Literature at Syracuse University.

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Published in the March 10, 2017 issue: View Contents
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