homestead, or a prayer in three parts

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Homestead, or a Prayer in Three Parts


She sat on her balcony for several hours

Overlooking the road which trickled in front of her home

Watching the bright silver fish squirm and flow before her.

She was hoping that he wouldn’t find her there, his pills

Had spilled all over the cathedral which housed his liquor

and she didn’t want to deal with his rage.

Home for her blossomed across and through the second floor and

Her days were spent mending pants which had come apart

At the seams and calming his soul, which had begun to

Splinter by his third cup of coffee.

She; her soul could fill the sky if she were to let it out

Enough, though she kept most of it tucked away in the

Cupboard with the pancake mix and her recipes, though

She did it without overwhelming resentment.

The laity would come by on the hour to grope at his feet

To ask for forgiveness and to cry at his shoulder, many of

Whom he had saved with his needles, while she sat amongst the stars and the grass

Burning through a pack, snickering to herself, in her sweatpants and white t-shirt

Which flapped against her holy chest as she bent over to put the last

One out, to go back inside and tell him it was really over

This time, but she couldn’t do it.

She approached sunrise Sunday Mass with him on her arm, his

Soul calmed momentarily because he knew it had to be,

But it wouldn’t last for long, for she knew that as soon as

The priest handed him his allotted amount for the week

He would spill it all inside himself and rush home so that

He might drown it all in self pity and wistful musings as he

Wandered about the parlor.



Holy holy holy he laid on the mattress with his

Arms outspread, hanging over the rusted out bed frame

Which neared collapse as his companion dressed herself

In the splotchy stained mirror, extending her hands to

Reach for the twenty dollars sprawled out on the dresser.

He rose, donning a resplendent white t-shirt which

Had been punctured many times over, his chest

Now converted into a dormant minefield interrupted

Occasionally by patches of color that resembled

The countless Rorschach tests he knew he had failed.

His companion departed, leaving him twenty dollars poorer and

Twenty years older as the sun hung motionless between

Blinds half shut, the light penetrating through each slip and dancing

on his legs.  He eyed the black ball of yarn which sat in a cold daze

On his bedside table in front of a small mirror, it almost looked

smaller in the mirror.  He knitted because she did, and it made

Him able to bear her and her pain as all of his years fell before him

From that honeyed spool.

He recalled the first present she made for him, his name cross-

Stitched into a placemat that she still used whenever he would

Come home, and he felt the washing pain of guilt for having fallen

So far from her womb, her beloved “Francis” mat collecting

More and more dust as his and everyone’s soul danced with

Diana everyday as Dad’s shadows gradually grew.


Mom and Dad were hiding from each other again, he

Thought, having now avoided contact for the better part

Of a decade after a lifetime of fighting at the head of the

Dinner table.



The hearse trembled as I sat across from the twilit sun, and

We passed by the small parish, not bigger than a barn, but lonelier.

As we moved the headstones rushed with vigor over the hills

And flew past us at breathtaking speed and then they were gone

Forever. The graveyard rolled in on itself and we fell forward

Until we arrived where he was supposed to be and we lifted ourselves

From the bosom of that dark angel as we walked him across the yard.

My grandmother led the way, the priest had offered his hand to help her

Get to him, for she was 83, but she waved him off, wanting only to

Lay him down and have the priest announce his arrival, then drift home.

The sun was hidden by clouded veils, her face barely visible while misty tears

Leaped from her cheek and fell onto my shoulders as we sprawled him out

In the granite garden, forever saint and sinner.

Uncle Francis stood in his dark brown coat, the darkest thing he owned, clinging

To my grandmother’s arm not crying but breathing, slowly and deliberately,

As if making a concerted effort to remember everything, his eyes darting from

Stone to sanctuary like the jagged silver fish I can see swimming from my apartment.

The overwhelming smallness of the air came over me, it was

Frighteningly stifled, as I noticed I was surrounded by palms resting over

Black skirts, the mourning train which had faithfully followed his

Breathing until his last hour.


What have I gathered from it all? Twenty years into now and the

Leaves still crumble beneath my feet as I cast my stones to reach

Another now.  Their old house lurched before me, its shutters had grown

Handicapped as they leaned recklessly, unable to close anymore as

They had before their fluorescence faded, revealing as they hung

From the one remaining nail the kitchen, its faded marble countertops and the stale

Scent of bread and honey drifting towards me from some

Far off place, hanging gently above me so that I could not reach

It until it had gone and I was once again by myself.

She was gone, her gentle hand gestures, and he was gone, yet his

Cathedral remained, empty and with more dust than liquor spread

Throughout it; momma had left here some time ago, migrating over

Two blocks with her lover, my father, when both of them were nestled

Firmly in the lap of their own wooden frame.

But what had I gathered? The welkin’s noble fire, breathing forth from

Strange tongues blazing star like, has run silent, instead

Bubbling quietly over the rivers and city blocks or in a constructed

Crescendo towering over me, castigating the naked darkness which

Unfurls above my cold damp head.

I sat on the curb pitter patter pit pat pit as the rain gently fell onto their

Mailbox and my hair from the hanging night.

I finally rested.


Submitted: August 24, 2018

© Copyright 2021 thomas bedenbaugh. All rights reserved.

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