Childhood of the Saint

for grandson Noah Leon Sanders

The childhood of the saint probably seems to
pass by in a matter of minutes

and he or she find themselves turning
wine into water and

stopping runaway school buses

A baby looks out at the world through
slitted eyes

not sure if the new accommodations are
really suitable after all

They suffer being picked up and laid down
gift-wrapped and unwrapped over and over

and no doubt we form later opinions and
attitudes in our tiny brain ridges

from the see-saws of these earliest moments

Whereas saintly babies get right to work from
the moment they land on earth

soothing the mother’s fears bringing the
young father to the sudden

brink of maturity

They seem to remember their kaleidoscopic
journey through and past all the

worlds in their shattering lightningbolt
highlights and celestial rainbow shadowings

and the wild character of their various
populations enough to fill coffee table photo books of

undersea anomalies as well as gorgeous
extraterrestrial beauties

They open their eyes onto the blurred
cinema of this world and get

right down to business

They’d talk of they could but are
patient at the deficiencies of their new equipment

though some (like the infants Jesus and Muhammad)
utter perfect sentences then keep their

council until speech seems more
age appropriate for a more

natural consensus

But right at the first
these saints look at us with their

big watery eyes and we’re

Birds gather in the trees outside the
nursery window in perfect

Walt Disney fashion since they’re the
news carriers to the rest of the

animal kingdom that another
saint’s been born among the

usual run of ordinary mortals

(the fact being that birds are more
capable than humans to spread

the news in its original righteous language)

and when the light’s out in the baby’s room
and the parents finally go off to sleep

the true spiritual conferences begin
with elders and saintly substitutes

come from all the corners of the globe
and ancient domes of the stars

to confer with the newest saintly arrival
who might seem peacefully asleep

but baby saints are busy charting out
the needs and emergencies of all earthly human commerce

and when the enrobed elders in their brilliant nimbuses
finally return to their dazzling domains

they remind the saint to cry out in the most
robust and baby-like manner

to awaken the parents again to their
basic human assumptions

Later in the whizzing childhood of these
blessed beings

(sawdust in their hair dirt on their
knees their pigtails tangled)

they have a touch that can’t be described
and a piercing glance that rights

wrongs and wages angelic war on
injustices in the tiniest of matters

and the roads ahead of them already
glisten with their light having

brought God’s intimacy with them
into the splendid

quotidian brightness of their days

Food tastes better in their company
financial worries disappear

(God’s bounty falls from the rafters)

Everyone’s clothed in a new nakedness
warmed by an anciently glorious sun

3/27/10 (from In Constant Incandescence)

Categories: Poems, Saints / Awliyya