Aaron Aaron was his brother's mouthpiece. Moses stuttered. It was only with Aaron at his side that Moses, at the risk of sharp death, could order Pharaoh to let go the Hebrews. Don't think Ben Hur. Picture my sweet brother David who, innocent that he was, wrestled with his tongue and only to a draw. David's death was ragged. The Pharaohs of our world — who seemed saints to those outside the family — had harder hearts than the one Moses and Aaron faced down. I did not stay at David's side but fled as far from Egypt as I could. I left him alone before the throne. He could get no words out of his mouth to give him protection. He was a lamb I left at the altar. No angel came to stay his hand when the weight of the Pharaohs, dead but still alive in our sinews, grew to be too much and he had no words to ask help and he dragged himself out the back door to his death. On the night of All Soul’s Day. I place your photograph, David, on the table of the dead. What can I say? I can’t puzzle words together to find you. I survive. You do not. You are an emptiness deep in me, next to the emptiness those Pharaohs carved out sixty-six years ago before you were born. I fled. You stayed. You died. It makes no difference Patrick crouches deeper inside his chest shell as he watches the disciplined boy kneeling on the marble floor of the chapel aisle between the seminarian pews during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and so weightily fearful is the boy that sweat plops in splash pools beside his knees. Patrick sweats, too, heavily, though not to such excess, and, like Richard, is fearful and laden with his raw acned existence here in this farm fields school and a prisoner of the mystery of his insides. In his hidden warehouse, stampeding cattle are the pulse and rumble and roar that cannot be contained and, yet, must be held back behind the Temple curtain of his face. Outside McDonald's this morning, a hooded man cleaning the glass wobbles on an uneven ladder. Veronica Veronica is not a name given to many baby girls today. She wiped the face of Jesus at the side of the packed- stone street the condemned man trudged with his cross rubbing his shoulder raw on his way to the hill. He left behind the image of his face on the cloth, like the Shroud of Turin but no need for x-rays. Did she hang it on the wall of her home? Store it in a drawer? It was certainly an odd miracle in which no cure was executed. Did Veronica and Simon the cross carrier meet later to trade notes or maybe just to look into each other's stunned eyes with no words to say — then, interrupted in their silent communion by the angry cry of a hungry baby, they turn to see the mother raise to the infant mouth her breast.
Patrick T. Reardon is a Chicagoan, born and bred. He is the author of eight books, including Requiem for David, a poetry collection, published in February, 2017, by Silver Birch Press and Faith Stripped to Its Essence: A Discordant Pilgrimage through Shusaku Endo’s ‘Silence.’ Reardon worked for 32 years as a reporter with the Chicago Tribune, specializing in urban affairs, and is now writing a book about the impact of the elevated railroad Loop on the stability and development of Chicago. His essays and poems have appeared frequently in American and European publications, including the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain’s Chicago Business, National Catholic Reporter, Illinois Heritage, Reality and U.S. Catholic. His book reviews have twice won the Peter Lisagor Award for arts criticism. He has lectured on Chicago history at the Chicago History Museum.