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.

 

©  Di Brandt 2018