Faculty / Poems

“I told Jesus When I was afraid” by Patrick Donnelly

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Maesta by Duccio di Buoninsegna

I told Jesus When I was afraid

as a child, I looked for pictures of you in the encyclopedia and circled them around my bed.

Jesus said, I remember Giotto, Cimabue, Fra Angelico. I remember the bells as Duccio’s Maestà was carried into the cathedral.

I told Jesus, I asked you to lift my gayness from me, laid down on my face in front of the altar at All Saint’s Church on West Fort Street in Detroit. I was nineteen, it was 1975, midnight and the tiles were cold.

Jesus said, I remember asking you Hath the rain a father? or who hath begotten the drops of dew?

I told Jesus, for thirty years I asked you to send me someone to love, and then Stephen came and we married, but we were old, so I begged you, keep us alive, let us live a little longer.

Jesus said, I remember I remember I remember the poem of you
that I sent to the empress with a branch of flowering.

*

From JESUS SAID, a poem sequence. Originally published in American Poetry Review. Used
with permission of the author. All rights reserved.

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