10 Pages

Chain of Fools

Again I approach the Church, St. Joseph’s at Howard and Tenth, south of Market in San Francisco. It’s a disconcerting structure, in late Mission style, but capped with two gold-domed towers out of some Russian Orthodox dream. I’m following two uniformed cops, in the late afternoon this October, we’re followed by the sun as we mount the steps to the big brass doors and enter into the darkness of the nave. I see the pastor, Filipino, short and shambling, approach us from the altar, where two nuns remain, arranging fall flowers around the vestibule. I fall back while the cops detain the priest. They’re passing him a sheaf of legal papers regarding the closing of the Church, which has been damaged beyond repair by the earthquake of ‘89. Anger crosses the priest’s handsome face, then he shakes the hands of the two policemen; all shrug as if to say, shit happens. I glance up at the enormous crucifix where the image of Christ is sprawled from the ugly nails. His slender body, a rag floating over his dick. His face, white in the darkened upper reaches of the Church. His eyes closed, yet bulging with pain. Again I bend my knee and bow, the body’s habitual response. Across my face and upper torso I trace the sign of the cross, the marks of this disputed passage. I’m dreaming again-again the dreaming self asserts its mastery over all of time, all of space.