Once our Calcuttan Mother walked

Enraptured her crooked toes to those

Great Gates and was turned away with

The sobering proclamation divine:

“Go back, there are no slums here.”


Likewise a father of the faith

Once pondered a similar fate in which

He willingly refused the Reward given

For solidarity with the outcast.

Peripheral incarnation forcing mercy on Mercy.


And then there is he, smallest and least,

Greatest shepherd of souls besides He.

Who claimed, in a moment of weakness,

(Or strength), to forsake the inheritance

For the love of his wayward brother.


I glimpse fire and smell smoke,

Moments of prodigal revealing and

Torments lifted, raptured in the

Chase and torn limb from limb by

The jaws of Grace bitten lockjaw.


And I wonder if the reward is too

Great a temptation (God have mercy)

To forsake my brother. And I

Wonder how I can love my God eternally,

Knowing my brother keeps flames in company.


And my brother, him! What eternal damnation

Could he escape knowing his place as my

Second love, only to be awkwardly reunited?

No. A human soul cannot bear it. Only

God, and forcefully so with gracious leaning:


“Love them, not me. Die for them, and in so

Doing be united to me. Burn fully, and

In love. For love’s fire burns out

Hell’s damning licks of Sulphur-y flames..


And so doing love me.”


I am too weak. I burn for

Salvation, not rushing hell’s damnation

Churning. Help my unbelief Father,

Who pushes me towards burning to

Burn love’s redemptive fire cleansing.


A gunshot and running, slow, im-

Perseptively reaching, shoes and slum-

Y Grim pulsing, glint of steel chas-

Ing, and crowds fawning at ti-

N doorways closing, options sifting death.


My life forfeit and slum mud-reeking,

I understood finally, and accepted flames

Reaching, concerned for my sister only,

And those uncomprehending, family, hoping,

Their reward revealing my choice, the flames!