[34] At Mission San Buenaventura with My Son, Greg Maddigan

We duck out of the rain, into the adobe vacancy.
We blink back images from the the frivolous pier, the floating fireworks
runnelled on the flip-sides of our eyelids.
My son’s flip-flops irreverently slap the hard floor, little
sound waves lapping at the base of the Crucifix, the wood wrung
from the velvet foothills, riveted with iron strong enough to
suspend a grown man, like the sun, by the wrists and shattered lower leg bones
above the Earth for hours, for eternity. My son’s
nonchalance echoes all the way to the edge of Eden. We coast
down the middle aisle, a wake between the wood,
genuflecting before the heavy centuries.

What did the Chumash think when St. Serra disciplined
their wild souls?
I envy their rebellion, their need to
burn driftwood in the sand, to carve their longings
in the sea bluffs, to rattle and chant under the basilica sky,
to dance, limbs disploding into light,
to get and spend on the things that matter.
My son is a wild soul; I wonder what he wonders, his coltish knees
spancelled by the kneeler, corralled by the pew.

Back outside, crossed and holy-watered, I glance over my shoulder,
relieved to see my son
gambol into the marbled light of the Mission Garden.
He says, “I could have stayed
inside
forever.”
At whose command would I tie my son to such an altar?

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