.08) Queens Vision,1983 - Poem by Max Reif
Somewhere in the bowels of Queens with my crazy 2nd wife,
going to meet her grandpa. The insane traffic
last night, some kind of Puerto Rican parade,
and her brother who’d just found God in the car with us,
shouting out the window, “Jesus is Lord, baby! ”
Today sunny and quiet, the regular rhythm of the New York streets,
bagel and pizza shops, pedestrians, trees, subway entrances, and delis (the ones with those paper coffee cups that show a Roman discus-thrower) .
Parking, we walk up the stairs in an ordinary brown, brick building.
An old thin man with glasses sits in an easy chair,
a devout Catholic, Cindy’s told me. An hour we sit
and talk of practically nothing, the Yankees and St. Francis,
how he worked in the shipyards, went to church all his life.
A Presence slowly grows, beyond what’s said.
Walking to the car I turn, look back.
A tree sheds red and golden leaves.
Traffic noises disappear in a silence
that swallows up their worldly sound.
The brown, brick building isn’t ordinary now.
A kind of halo suffuses it,
body of the silence,
lending more beauty to the red and gold
than even autumn leaves should have.
On a busy New York street, time stops
in homage to the saintly man up there.
Is there an angel ladder here, that I can’t see,
or just his prayers, kind thoughts and deeds
raining peace and beauty, as from a living shrine?
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