Thursday, March 28, 2019

Episcopal Priest


(for my brother Bob Kettelhack, Episcopal priest,

who died of AIDS 30 years ago, March 27, 1989)



An almost pleasurable heaviness –
faint ache – neuralgia: soft – dissociated
from emotion: disparate, dispersed and widely
unrelated notions floating aimlessly

and far away – as if in some near-empty
ocean various unbidden unrelated
species of sea creatures dimly
make each other’s shadows out

beyond the tug and push of a translucent
gray salinity – just visibly enough
to raise a tiny doubt that they might not
be so intractably alone: and yet not

terribly excited at the thought: there’s
nothing fraught in this wide stillness –
nothing urgent or intense, untoward:
a lack of any sense of moving backward,

forward, up or down: a kind of round
existence in which nothing needed much –
or anything at all. Episcopal priest –
my brother felt, and answered to, a call –

and just before he met his fall, he conjured up
a Christ with whom the only possible
experience was ardor – wild untamed desire –
utter longing for immersion. In my brother’s

version, God was something so in love with us
that we could not imagine the obsession –
could not know just how inordinately,
inextricably that flow caressed, contained our

every little tic and throe. My brother left
the living thirty years ago. Perhaps
my rambling foray now through this uncertain
not unpleasant shroud of cool translucent

afternoon is giving, through the flip side
of my brother’s passion, something
prescient. Through its absence,
we know presence.