the sisters and brothers who never learned
their lesson from detention, never felt bad
seeing a beggar count tiny coins at the till
buying day-old bread, never embraced
prayer or Eucharist like Saint So-and-so did.
Brother to a Doctor of the Church, his best
writing was a group project to earn an MBA
in defense of keeping minimum wage low.
Sister to a martyr for the precious blood,
her greatest sacrifices were forgoing full-caf
lattes when pregnant and manicures when her husband
was out of work. Worse than siblings, think
of the married saints, their spouses
never doing their share. Sure, they do dishes,
run the kids to soccer practice or clarinet,
but what do they contribute to God’s world?
He’s fixed a leaky sink, cleaned the carpet
where the dog threw up, and spent hours
arguing about football on twitter. He catalogs
the likes his words receive, yet never knows
his blessed wife’s silent prayers at night,
lies so alone, his own breaths wordless,
absorbed by his memory-foam pillow,
the only thing that clings to his human form.
Gary Leising is the author of the book The Alp at the End of My Street (Brick Road Poetry Press 2014). He has also published three poetry chapbooks: The Girl with the JAKE Tattoo (Two of Cups Press 2015), Temple of Bones (Finishing Line Press 2013), and Fastened to a Dying Animal (Pudding House 2010). He lives in Clinton, New York, with his wife and two sons, where he teaches creative writing and poetry as a professor of English.
Image: “Gratuitous” by Danni Louise