Wounds in Messiah Sandals

You almost let us fall in love with you again

but we know better now

instead we bear witness

a few thousand miles between us and heartache


When we were children

we let you just close enough to catch the whirlwind off your one man circus

shards of glass and old spoons sputtering in your wake

I didn’t know then what sober looked like

only the moments between your daze and terror


On a good day:

we’d build wooden airplanes under oak trees

discover new worlds in tadpole ponds

when you were good, you were God

More often you’d sit in still darkness with hooded eyes

I’d come to your knee and work up the courage to ask what’s wrong

choking on my words

spit it out, you’d say

you wouldn’t answer til I got my sentence perfect


When I was brave

I told you jokes to bring you back to us

you never laughed but you blinked your hazel eyes

kind and full of ghosts


The last time I saw you

I asked if you kept the old habits

you smiled without teeth and said

the best place to hide track marks is between your toes

you wear your wounds so plain in your messiah sandals

I thought that you knew better

but I never could look down to see for myself


 When granddaddy died last spring

you drove us to the sand flats behind the old church

and we stood in the shade of Spanish moss

the last good man, you said

between drags of a Camel cigarette

that may be true

but we can still inherit the earth

it’s not too late for us

we could walk on water with you

if you let us

if you wanted


I said you could raze the earth with your words

if you wanted

but you pass days in between sleep and smoke

and wading into that warm river



We’ve mourned you since your first scratch

but you’re still here, a faint whisper

an unsteady heartbeat kicking around sand dunes and palmetto bugs

and I’m still that scared child at her father’s knee

too afraid to get the words wrong


Now you’re sitting in a plastic chair in the shadows of granddaddy’s garage

holding court with your demons

I’m sorry we don’t know how to reach you there

we could try harder, if we were brave

we would sit at your feet and listen

your mute disciples

appointed by some kind God to keep vigil of his son


Before it’s too late

let me hold your broken body full of holes like Jesus

and let me catch the sun rays straining through your skin like bible paper


You’re an old man now

too old for these party tricks

we shouldn’t let you in

I’ll always let you in

call home sometime