Sunset at Bardem

Jesus the fisherman walks half a mile
west in open water, works nets
at day’s end, appraises a catch
much reduced. Nipponese trawlers
now carpet fish the high seas outside Goa.
He doubts even his Father will arrange
for the meagre sardines and mandeli
to be divided amongst the congregation.
Southwards, the apprehension of an incoming
grey line that might make him lose even this.

Two hundred feet above the shallows,
Christ ascends the high altar of St. Diego’s.
His Plaster of Paris finger follows
the storm beyond his iterative flock
kicking a football outside the narthex.
Fra. Aubreau keeps goal as assiduously
as he tends to his laity. He pushes the hair
from his face, spies the moving finger
and rubs his eyes as it points to the sky.

This vindication of his faith fleetingly
overcomes his skills as a keeper:
he misses the penalty and takes the ball
full frontally on his crotch, belief
systems are compelled ephemerally
onto an entirely different focus. Aubreau
suffers the extreme barbs of piety,
as he rolls in the dust like a supplicant.

Above the belfry, the squall slows.
The sun brings absolution, lighting
at the last instant palm fronds
that line the beach all the way
to Sinquerim, revealing a gleam
of His heavenly kingdom.
Christ postpones resurrection
to keep the rain at bay, enough
to convey the fishermen and footballers
of Bardem to vespers. A Bodhisatva,
the messiah has a job to do
and pits compassion over destiny every time.

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