Tombo

By W. S. Di Piero b. 1945
In Safeway yesterday, a young man sat on the floor,
           pulled off   his shoes, granted audience to us,
his fellow seekers, and picked his naked feet.
           He smiled, our brother, at the story he told
of   deliverance at the hand of   Master Tombo,
           lord and creator, whose round energy
lives in us surrounds us surrounds our milk
           our butter our eggs: see Him there,
in the Slurpee glaze upon the freezer case?
           In that elder by the yogurt shelves?
I believed his happiness and coveted
           a tidy universe. He picked his feet
while a child whimpered by the melons, her nanny’s
           mango aura made the cold blown air
touch my brain, I smelled myself in my aging body
           and felt my silly bones collapse again.
I wanted Tombo’s dispensation to save
           this faint believer and the indifferent world
that rivers through and past me. Down my aisle
           lavender respired from the flower stall
and Security spoke kind words to our prophet.
          Oh I love and hate the fickle messy wash
of speech and flowers and winds and the tides
           and crave plain rotund stories
to justify our continuity. To the Maya corn was god,
           spilled blood made corn grow,
the blood gods shed watered needy ground
           and became People who worshipped the corn.
Tombo’s grace carries us, convinced, from one
           inarticulate incoherent moment to the next.
Tonight the wet streets and their limelight sigh.
          Orion turns, burning, unchanged again.
Bread rises somewhere and its ovens scent the trees.
           My poor belief   lives in the only and all
of   the slur of   what these are, and what these are
          streams toward loss in moments we live through.
As children we were lost in our opaque acts
           but fresh and full in time. I remember
how I touched a girlish knee, how one boy
           broke another’s face, how we all stood
in hard gray summer rain so it would run
          down the tips of noses to our tongues.

Source: Poetry (September 2013).

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This poem originally appeared in the September 2013 issue of Poetry magazine

September 2013
 W. S. Di Piero

Biography

W.S. Di Piero was born in 1945 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and earned degrees from St. Joseph’s College and San Francisco State College. A poet, essayist, art critic, and translator, Di Piero has taught at institutions such as Northwestern University, Louisiana State University, and Stanford, where he is professor emeritus of English and on faculty in the prestigious Stegner Poetry Workshop. Elected to the American Academy of . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Time & Brevity, Youth, Religion, The Spiritual

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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