Poetry

April 19, 2018 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION

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By

Sarah Ito

 

 

 

The Infant Of Prague/Jesus Christ Rides The Tram

 

 

Jesus Christ sits quietly in the back of Tram Number 5,

Perched on the caned seat,

Reading scripture from a tablet

Whilst the streetcar skittles mechanically

Along its silvery rail.

Winding through the narrow streets,

Apartments above, cobblestones below.

Night has come to Prague.

The streetlamps are lit,

Throwing a spittle of illumination

Into the chilled air.

Snow will fall, soon.

Jesus Christ shivers, and pulls his

Threadbare shroud closer,

Staving off the gray cold,

As any reasonable soul might do.

The tram driver, of ruddy cheeks and portly belly, toots the horn

And clangs the bell,

A benign warning to those crossing his electric path.

Careless strollers scatter, distracted by

The nighttime’s activity

Of strudel and coffee and steins of brown stout.

Jesus smiles.

“Prague,” he whispers sweetly, to the unseen Holy Ghost,

“I remember when I was but an infant here…”

A cathedral looms ahead, stalwart in the gloaming…

Unyielding fortress built of penance and imploration.

Before its daunting steps, the red and green tram brakes to a halt

With nary a protesting screech.

Jesus hops off, fettered by the moldy leather of his apostolic sandals.

As the tram pulls away, leaving him alone with the unseen Holy Ghost,

And his iPhone X,

He thinks, No selfies tonight. It is too dark, even for one who turns water into wine.

Jesus hobbles up the steep stairs, into the beckoning sanctuary with its stately rows of Flickering votives…

Stale incense…

And vacant pews devoid of worshipers.

Jesus Christ, confused by the emptiness, drops to his knees, beseeching the heavens.

It’s me, Father,” he cries aloud, “Jesus Christ, party of twelve!”

A mean silence answers, reverberates from the arches, teases and bullies.

The Holy Ghost remains mute, untouched by this cruelty.

“I’m funning with you, Father. No party of twelve. Just me and the Holy Ghost. Table for two, please.”

But no one is at home within the shadowy cathedral. Silence swells the nooks

And paints the crannies, washing freestyle

Over the barren sacred places.

Where prayers go to die.

Jesus turns to face the faceless Holy Ghost, but the Holy Ghost voices no support,

No solidarity.

Disappointment salts Jesus’ voice, peppers his speech…

Where are you, Father? I thought you would be in your house tonight. I thought you would be here for me. Where, where are you?

Jesus reaches under his shroud, retrieving his iPhone X.

The device is vibrating, a life form unto itself, like a severed heart, beating independent Of a living body.

The tram is arriving in two minutes, reads the pulsing message

On the tiny screen.

With heart heavy,

Jesus departs the hollow cathedral.

The red and green tram glides in, and Jesus drops his fare for one

Into the brass bucket.

The Holy Ghost rides the tram free of charge, his boarding unnoticed

By the driver, unnoticed by the passengers.

Jesus takes his usual seat in the rear of the car,

Tucking his robes close,

Oblivious

To the intrusive gaze of the tired riders,

Totes and shopping bags laden with leafy provisions

From a carefree visit to the market…

Riders who are not wearing sandals,

Nor wrapped in a thready shroud

Of sorrow and disbelief…

Disbelief that a celestial Father

Stepped out to the café for schnitzel and beer

And kremrole

At that very moment

When Jesus came to call.

Now, the tram driver throttles up.

Impatient Number 5 slips away, out of the district,

And into the gaslit Prague night,

Carrying Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost

Through the labyrinth of backstreets, ancient spires and domes

That gently stabs the night sky of the Old City…

Snaking in silence past withering pre-winter gardens,

And shops and cafes aglow with the excitement of the revelers,

To arrive, now empty but for Jesus in the rear,

At the desolate street corner that is the tram’s final destination.

Last Stop, barks the rotund driver, his thoughts preoccupied

By the smothered pork chops awaiting him at home.

He rubs his belly, swinelike.

Jesus Christ arises, as if from the dead,

Exiting Tram Number 5 slowly,

In deference to the impracticality of his sandals

Against the rough cobblestones.

He clutches the lifeline of his iPhone X in a constrictor’s grip,

Wondering where he will sleep this night,

And if there will be room enough for the Holy Ghost to crash

With him

At the outdoor inn.

Jesus’ beard trembles now, as he casts his glance

Over a reedy shoulder at the Old City, now so far beyond his reach.

“I remember when I was but an infant here…”

 

 

 

 

 

Sarah Ito

I am a novelist (GROWING UP GREENWICH, Outskirts Press), blogger and essayist, and occasional poet.

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