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He Posits Certain Mysteries

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The body of the boy who took his flight
off the cliff at Kilcloher into the sea
was hauled up by curragh-men, out at first light
fishing mackerel in the estuary.
“No requiem or rosary” said the priest,
“nor consecrated ground for burial,”
as if the boy had flown outside the pale
of mercy or redemption or God’s love.  
“Forgive them, for they know not what they do,”
quoth Argyle to the corpse’s people,
who heard in what he said a sort of riddle,
as if he meant their coreligionists
and not their sodden, sadly broken boy.
Either way, they took some comfort in it
and readied better than accustomed fare
of food and spirits; by their own reckoning:
the greater sin, the greater so the toll.
But Argyle refused their shilling coin
and helped them build a box and dig a grave.
“Your boy’s no profligate or prodigal,”
he said, “only a wounded pilgrim like us all.
What say his leaping was a leap of faith,
into his father’s beckoning embrace?”
They killed no fatted calf.  They filled the hole.

Source: Poetry (February 2011)

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This poem originally appeared in the February 2011 issue of Poetry magazine

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He Posits Certain Mysteries

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