Salve Regina

Somebody, advising her, said name this place
Il Gesu, thinking perhaps of Roman Baroque,
but as you see, it’s stark as a calloused Calvinist
preacher’s chapel, saving, Deo gratias,
the bright bottles at the bar. Patience.
She’ll minx over, kittenish shy
fashion, taking her own good time,
to this my regular cozy afternoon corner
(given it’s not crowded, and if I’ve seen
her blue Camaro in the lot). That’s her,
or rather her chubby thighs and derrière, there,
scraping gum off stool-bottoms. Quietly,
almost profitably, she’s run Il Gesu twenty
years, conceiver, founder, owner, cook,
custodian, cocktail shaker and server, and queen
of her own heaven.
Ave Maria.

Knows me? Sure she knows me. Knows I hate
preachers, partisans, Elton John (listen,
she’s turning him down), ignorant news-skanks,
snooty accents, and most adamantly falsehood
and all other species of demonic blasphemy.
What else need she know? By their hates
ye shall know them. A man cannot hate
hypocritically, ambitiously, snobbishly, as he ever
loves. Can he, you ask, be also saved
by his hates? She’d know. Marie knows.
Besides, she poureth out a generous shot
and loveth a cheerful tipper. Ah, she’s here.
Startling apparition.
Gratia plena.

Try my usual spirits? Yes, Marie,
but two today, as you’ve doubtless divined.
But wait for me to slap your cheek behind.

No, she doesn’t hang around for chitchat.
And don’t, merely because she folds her arms
that way against the table’s edge, think her
provocative. Money, for her, is everything. She’s
greedy, even predatory I’d say, for money.
Money for rent, gas, lights, quacks,
Camaro; boyfriend’s beer, TV, fines;
sisters’ bail; kids’ food, kids’
so-called school, kids’ Nikes, kids’…
The crucifix? Overly realistic? Charmingly, I’d say,
dangling by faith in the smooth as sanded wood
cleft of her breast, token, by faith, of God’s
suffering Son at rest in the maternal warmth
of her bosom, as she, by faith, will ever rest
in His, in His Father’s House.
Dominus tecum.

Yes, you could — do you insist? — make
a list, or even cast a stone or two.
She stinks of cigarettes; smiles close-mouthed
hiding bad teeth behind vermillion
lips; fingertips sticky as a frog’s; brags,
as earned distinction, of whelping two kids
by the same indolent scoundrel; …

Thank you, Marie. There, again.

… but, consider her one aspiration:
to parade, she says — after she’s croned and croaked —
crucifix in bosom, with Theresa, Lucy, Cecilia,
all the dazzling female saints marching in
ahead of Pastors, Priests, Popes, Prophets,
Admirals, Heroes, who will serve her cocktails in her mansion,
and she’ll pat their obsequious butts to stop them groveling
at her feet.
Benedicta tu in mulieribus.

Miamisburg, Ohio, 2010