My soul waits for the Lord as do we on watch until morning...

We charter a large motor yacht
        to strew Alan’s ashes,
and Patrick says what St. John taught.
       The wreath of orchids splashes
into the vessel’s foaming wake,
       as turbid as my thoughts.
Pinned to the wind for Alan’s sake
       we motor at three knots.

Mucking the sheep pens in your father’s fold,
snatched by Franciscans, just thirteen years old,
Father, what better job than be a priest?
You have learned English, Spanish, and at least
ecclesial Latin. You never have learned Greek
nor watched a sunset where you didn’t seek
some Revelation. You are a chosen one
vigilant at the setting of the sun,
poised at the ramparts as the night draws on,
one of our sentries waiting for the dawn.

Father Tom phoned as I was adding leaven
to bread dough, saying Pat has gone to Heaven
to lounge grandly with Alan on his cloud,
leaving his earthbound body to its shroud.
O’Shea and Sullivan, oh what a pair
to draw to, and the drawn cards turn up aces!
I see them limping down my sailboat stair,
nothing but joy and laughter in their faces.
Few priests could rival Pat in joie de vivre,
no priest of my acquaintance, a believer
with more fervor. I hope before Pat died
he learned John Twenty-Third, beatified,
was made a saint, for how he loved Pope John.
Now Patrick is a saint, and life goes on
though much diminished, three years to the day
since Alan’s death. Remember, we are clay.

Timothy Murphy, a frequent contributor to Commonweal, died on June 30 at his home in Fargo, North Dakota. His books include Very Far North (2002), Mortal Stakes and Faint Thunder (2011), and Devotions (2017). Requiescat in pace.

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Published in the September 13, 2013 issue: View Contents
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