Des Homme et des Dieux

Oh come on. Does anyone really believe there’s a person out there watching us?
Grow up… —-Steve, of Melbourne.

Brother Luc hoards medicines to help the villagers
but gives to them a healing that’s really only words,
the brothers’ open hands. The brothers know
their separate lives amount to weeks or days;
Brother Luc is little more than seconds in the wind.
Older than the others, he knows the weight of things,
he knows the bitter verdict of charity and love,
he prays for less and less. This evening after mass
he crouches by the Christ who hauls His splintered cross;
he leans against the Saviour’s breast and checks
the heartbeat there; he runs his stumpy fingers
along the bloodied skin; he listens in the cold.
His breath is like an angelus. The night rolls over him.
He curls against the chapel wall and sleeps there, like a child.

—John Foulcher, “Des Hommes et des Dieux,” with its epitaph.
Martin Langford, Judith Beveridge, Judy Johnson and David Musgrave, eds, Contemporary Australian Poetry (Glebe, NSW: Puncher and Wattmann, 2016), pp. 197-8.

  Oils in the baptistry,    Chapel of St. Ignatius   , Seattle University, Washington State, USA.    Photo source.

Oils in the baptistry, Chapel of St. Ignatius, Seattle University, Washington State, USA. Photo source.