Teele Square Sunday Morning, Summer 2001

Just as I saunter down the front porch stair
  Into the brilliant light of Sunday morning,
My collar pressed, pants creased, and without care,
  As if the world shrugged off all signs of mourning,
I catch sight of the dive bar on Teele Square.

And there, left blinking, helpless, lost in light,
  A man and woman who’ve just been kicked out,
Their cash all gone, shamed in each other’s sight
  At the butt end of a long drinking bout
That now seems poised to finish with a fight.

The man calls out to me across the street
  To ask me for a dollar. I just smile
And pass on, but observe the morning heat
  Already overcoming hope and guile,
As their pink faces settle in defeat.

I can’t be bothered, really, and arrive
  At Mass just as the bell begins to toll,
Squeezing into a back pew all alive
  With children stretched beyond their moms’ control.
One peers at me, then takes a sudden dive.

And here, an hour, we listen, sing, and pray.
  The day is ripe and everything so clear,
We scarcely glimpse what else might come our way.
  But when, months on, the dark headlines appear,
Joy stops, doors shut, and few of us will stay.

James Matthew Wilson

James Matthew Wilson is the author, most recently, of The Strangeness of the Good (Angelico, 2020). He serves as poetry editor for Modern Age magazine, series editor of Colosseum Books, and as director of the Colosseum Institute. He is the director of the MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Saint Thomas.

'Teele Square Sunday Morning, Summer 2001' has 1 comment

  1. March 25, 2020 @ 10:54 am Cynthia Erlandson

    Poignant story, well expressed!


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