John Schellhase

Marcello Sees Two Souls


I thought I had gone blind, until their glow
  Appeared. In the bright world, when kings went by,
  Farmers would lean on plows and stare, just so
I stopped and watched as they descended—I
  Who'd not stood still in twenty thousand days.
  Their light revealed the shades that occupy
This foul ring as a lantern in the haze
  Might show the trees that line the midnight pass.
  The taller soul looked thinner than the rays
Of light upon a brook or pane of glass;
  I thought a stone, or wind, could scatter him.
  He held his hands as priests do in the mass
And spoke their Latin too with ease and vim.
  The shorter man had skin as rough as sand,
  A cloak like burlap, eyes that watched the rim,
Plumbing the black; he dragged a trembling hand
  Along the wall. His footsteps on the floor
  Made sounds that I'd forgot feet made on land—
A thud, a scrape, sweet waves upon the shore
  Of my dry mind. But rest can never last.
  Feeling my threadbare legs tugged on once more,
I watched them near me then, my eyes downcast.
  The short man made a joke about our pain,
  His leader chided him, and they walked past.
Yet even now their images remain,
  As if a lightning bolt had left a stain.