Remember how the nun told us that the last person to sleep with the Virgin Mary
was Cervantes? We didn’t do the math on the centuries. We believed her—Yes, Sister.
And when we thought about it, between Cervantes and the Virgin, there were
Most compelling of all lay within the house in Ephesus, the stone house, with a
hearth and an apse, where the Virgin Mary may have spent her last years.
Through the bedroom window comes the sound of a stream. And there, on what
might have been her bedside table, is the book called Don Quixote. It is inscribed
to Mary by its author, Cervantes:
And here, Virgin, is the child of my understanding.
We talked about it every day, taking up three seats at the very back of the bus.
How the nun, who had never left Massachusetts, must have seen the house in a vision.
How Cervantes was implying that Jesus was probably most definitely made from semen.
But how we still—even more!—loved him.
We talked about how the rhythm method didn’t work. We talked about books.
Late drives back after far-away games, we sang, with pointed exclamation, with high-pitch
To dream ... the impossible dream ...To fight ... the unbeatable foe ...
Where could we hide a tattoo from the nun? The hip. The thigh. The pelvic bone.
How has the nun still not died when we are all so incredibly old?
Have you found it’s true, what she said, about orgasm meaning little death?
Mary and Cervantes—didn’t only ninnies believe that story?
No. From the bus’s back window, I beheld—a dark field.
In its very middle was a willow.
Hanging from the bowing branches: post-suicidal crows.
Though what I saw were probably just leaves, or girls’ clothes.
And on the ground, with his back against the tree…the sorrowful knight.
By now I hope he is dead. Else how sad would be his handsomeness.
Me? Oh, actually, tomorrow, I am traveling to Ephesus.
I too would like to imagine sex and have my own Jesus.
Of course, it’s a different time. It’s possible my imagination’s incarnation
will have plastic eyes and Styrofoam legs, or a recycled soda-can cranium.
No, I’m not wishing for a child in pain!
I don’t want any human to find itself through mortification.
It’s just—if we are going to have sex and then have children, real or not,
I would like to write in the baby book something…quixotic,
so that when the child asks, Where do I come from
this can be the conversation:
--Where do I come from?
--Ephesus. It was late afternoon, on a straw mattress.
--Was it an August of incredible yearning? Was there, out the window, a stream murmuring?
--What came first, the stream or the yearning?
--That (I say with tenderness) is an inviolable secret, Jesus.
He is no longer listening. He is studying himself in the mirror.
I would say he is eating his heart out
but being imaginary, he has no heart,
so he is eating his eyes out.