Where the eagle perches on Patmos,
A rocky place secluded
A little, not much, by shadows,
The evangel is rooted
Upon one boyish elbow
On the rock two feet away;
The fishing villages below
Have all the month of May
To consider their wooden keels
On sand or out at sea
While he, like all evangels,
This moment, must write eternity.
The kind of pledge that heaven is,
Abrupt, the final distances
That open out before one’s eyes,
That morning could be seen
Atop the dorm’s nine-story ledge,
A scaffold hooked over the edge,
The great Lake Michigan a wedge
Of blue to the working man.
If his eyes were blue, you couldn’t tell
When sound of bricks and the scaffold fell.
From below, looking up, he dangled well
By one grappling hook.
It knew enough to pierce his thigh,
But as for fishing this piece of sky
The cirrus cloud that swam nearby
Never turned to look.
Into no rowboat, nor a fisher’s creel,
He was dragged back over a window sill,
His leg stitched on a doctor’s table,
Needle and thread and luck.
Memory treasures up more heavens
Than there are great Lake Michigans,
Or wind blown, swaying, scaffold stations
Climbed next day to work.