for my friend Ruth, who urges me to make an appointment for the Sacrament of Confesson
Concerning your letter in which you ask me to call a priest and in which you ask me to wear The Cross that you enclose; your own cross, your dog-bitten cross, no larger than a thumb, small and wooden, no thorns, this rose --
I pray to its shadow, that gray place where it lies on your letter ... deep, deep. I detest my sins and I try to believe in The Cross. I touch its tender hips, its dark jawed face, its solid neck, its brown sleep.
True. There is a beautiful Jesus. He is frozen to his bones like a chunk of beef. How desperately he wanted to pull his arms in! How desperately I touch his vertical and horizontal axes! But I can't. Need is not quite belief.
All morning long I have worn your cross, hung with package string around my throat. It tapped me lightly as a child's heart might, tapping secondhand, softly waiting to be born. Ruth, I cherish the letter you wrote.
My friend, my friend, I was born doing reference work in sin, and born confessing it. This is what poems are: with mercy for the greedy, they are the tongue's wrangle, the world's pottage, the rat's star.