Three or four women, at least,
have rescued me from the jaws of death.
Maria pulled me from traffic
when I had wandered, garrulous, into Albany.
Emilie cupped my skull in her hands, just above the steps of the altar,
and just before the stone emptied the contents after a faint.
Ellen – of blessed memory – and all the crew
of the seminary soccer team got me to the hospital
that time when I was blood, adrenaline and fear.
Though unnamed, whatever OBGYN
helped me emerge from the darkness
probably deserves a mention, as does my mother,
who, in darkness, brought me forth.
So I know that Soteria and Salus are real, and yet
I would also bow my head
to the saving graces of the everyday.
A woman asked what I was reading, while I was ordering
at the beer stall of the local college league baseball field.
Together, we amiably sallied into the lives
of fictional characters living by the Ganges River.
I parked myself at an empty picnic bench, and recognized nearby
the local trivia king, who a few weeks back,
and with no help from me, had won us both a coupon.
I remembered him – though he seemed at abashed at the honor –
and we were joined by another lonely person
(for I was lonely, or had been)
and together we talked about the starting pitchers
various teams boasted in the nineteen-nineties.
Eventually the conversation petered out,
and we all went our separate directions,
with the shared excuse of food.
It’s little details like this
that summer uses
to bring paradise to life.
And – I say this with the utmost respect –
if we are to be saved,
not just at the final gates,
but in every transitory moment,
don’t we all have a role
in the armies of salvation?