You hear the file of his breath

cautiously sawing at the prison bars of his throat

all the way down the stairs into the broom closet,

where every stick is crossed;

an old man with a child’s heart

he’s always slept with open doors.


That same voice that speaks a few feet below sea level

dreams hoarsely after hours of nightly shufflings;

it was made for radio.0

Please don’t turn that dial.


Several of us–I and, less knowingly,

the Sales Dept. of the oils company–

want him to paint more;

his trees, his root-crop tombs,

his loose associations of colour

reassure us of his presence,

like the jailer who does his rounds

banging bars with his ugly cudgel

just to let all the inmates know,

just to convince himself,

that they’re together there forever.

Greg Kennedy, SJ is assigned to the spiritual exercises ministry at the Ignatius Jesuit Centre in Guelph, Ontario.


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