Idol Wonder


A version of this story ran in the January 2013 issue.

Concepts create idols.
Only wonder comprehends anything.

—Gregory of Nyssa

A high-school classmate
walked into the office in his
antiseptic jacket.
He, the doctor, black,
I, a white assistant editor;
Was it the South that made me say—
anxious that it would sound sardonic—
“You’ve done well for yourself”?

My father, veteran
of World War II, skipper
of an LSM, never talked much
about his time in the service—
never, as far as I know—
marked Veterans Day with
any fanfare.

It is odd—or is it?—
that my favorite photo is his Navy portrait,
he, looking evenly into
the camera, assured, composed,
dress whites perfectly
snug on his young shoulders.

News came today of
yet another bombing—a
woman walked into the market
and blew herself up.
That same day, the Southern
preacher threatened to burn the
Koran, and our Catholic
priest told my wife sharply—
white sun blaring outside the church
just after Mass—that she had
better get on board with the bishops.

The morning clouds are often grey,
until sun and heat clear them away.