Mid-afternoon benediction - for Dominic

That time I crossed Michaëlle Jean Park in late August

on the sunlit gravel path, and you and your friends

 

rose like a vision through the splendid green-leafed

ash trees, up from the hidden mudbank of the magic

 

Red River:  you were all in tattoos and black leather,

your dark eyes wide open and spacey, and I wanted

 

to swerve so as not to have to meet or greet you, but

I didn't, I stayed true, and your friends all warmly

 

greeted me too, though it was only you who turned

back to chat and shake my hand.  You asked me my

 

 name, and you told me yours, which I remember now

as Dominic, though it may have been Richard or Maurice,

 

and you asked me to pray for you, right there in the sun-

streaked grass beside the gravel path.  And I stammered

 

out a small prayer, and you pressed my hand warmly

to thank me, and turned smiling to join your friends.

 

And I, I stumbled home ashamed not to have prayed

more elegantly for you.  And I said the prayer again,

 

Dominic, mentioning your name and your warm strong

hands and open heart. I spoke of your hard life and your

 

cut up hopes and the large grace you carry even so. 

And I thanked you for the benediction, the blessing you

 

gave me, too, there on the gravel path, among the sun-

lit stones, your bright spirit pouring living water upon

 

the parched riverbed of my people's scattered bones,

moment of greatness, blast of beauty, whiff of the divine,

 

ancestral smiles among the green-leafed trees, rippling

like lace in the slightly shivering mid-afternoon breeze.