Rocky (A Ceremony)
A Black vest over a long winter coat,
Flannel shirt with cut off army pants,
Hiking boots, no socks.
Shoulder long wavy blonde hair
Hiding wide and cloudy green eyes.
It was the middle of summer.
He walked with a heavy stride
Through milling crowds carrying
briefcases and shopping bags.
He noticed every glare, the stares
Of eyes passing by on the downtown
Stage-set streets of Boulder.
Rocky had grown used to the divisions.
He had tried a long time ago to merge
With people, to walk down a street
To sit in a bar, to talk with smiles,
Nods and winks. It would last
A day, a week, but always the pin prick holes
In the sky would blow wide open.
In mumbled chants he would tell me
Of spirits in the city that move a person
Toward danger to teach them freedom.
He spoke of God and pain. How each life
Has many symbols but only one ceremony.
I had heard of his exposures, of his
Ceremony in the streets but there
Was nothing all summer long, through fall.
In winter there were quiet walks
Like prayer through white streets,
His voice became more private,
Closer to silence. I looked away
For a moment, an ordinary
Glance at something in the snow.
Looking up – His coat was off, vest off –
I picked them up Out of the snow.
I followed him – shirt pulled over
His head as he walked, boots
Stepped out of, cut off army pants
Dropped, walked out of. I picked up
The shirt, the boots, the pants,
He kept walking, his bare skin
Goose bumbed and stark
Against the snow.
Each step raged with divine force
Carrying him forward, and forward
And forward until he stopped – hard.
His face abstracted and white, mouth
Stretched open over his chin, eyes
Rolled up, shooting into the grey sky.
His arms pushed up around
The tortured face, bent at the elbows,
Fists open – a body opening
Up as if burning flesh away
Revealing within – the angel
And a fierce soul struggling
And twisted together.
The silence cracked the air.
Everything was silent.