No Dante But Maybe Guided

Matthew Bruce Harrison

All my holes raw before the cathedral
vault of the Gothic food court, I cut 

a sickle path through the dead     
lawn and slid behind a purple mass 

of puffers and pom-pommed beanies 
bowed in the shared breath of winter 

prayer beside Summit Avenue, under 
a fossilized white walnut. South, traffic

lights greened and bloodied banks 
of snow where I turned perpendicular 

to the congregation, free not to glance
back but did and did witness the down-

cast glittered heads no longer holy 
supplicants but lapping at the glows

of palmed phones. Bluish static flurried 
the scene. Was a funny disappointment

for unanointed me when the shuttle came 
trumpeting bad brakes in royal advent 

for the waiting. Everybody looked up, 
but I legged the freeze to Sri Chinmoy 

Peace Bridge, arched the clouded Mississippi 
that copied the slow clouds. My idiot faith 

romanced a leap, but my body, middling 
on a road inclined to weather us across 

despite the weight of our exhaust held me 
level, though I slipped into commonplace 

reverie for the middle ages, my cinematic 
Book of Hours. Elevated, framed by sky-

scrapers and abandoned barbicans, my movie 
illuminated those students bound in sacred-

heart dyed merchandise who waited still, 
transmogrified into the hum and steam 

of a violet idea beneath the nimbus-bright 
bulbs of the number sixty until each drop, 

when each body descended, trustful, a live-
streamed angel tracing the brief boot prints  

of strangers in the miniature buoyant gleams 
of miracle texts on touched screens, diminishing 

into the cassock of Saint Paul. I crossed over 
heel-to-toe just as the locals taught so not 

to fall. I blew into my cupped palms, flattened 
them, rubbed warm my Gospel name, Matthew, 

unfolded my hands and thought, Matthew, when 
your destination finds you, thank the time-

grimed windows there, the worn door, the labored 
calm, the scarred floor, the leftovers, the soured 

sheets, the hopeless hours, the hopeful, the close
enduring skin, the wait, the descent, the stop.


about the writer


Matthew Bruce Harrison's writing can be found in Sixth Finch, West Branch, Adroit Journal, Carolina Quarterly, Texas Review, Bayou, Cincinnati Review, and At Length , among others. Born in Georgia, he lived in Washington and California for a long while before moving to Massachusetts to do an MFA at UMass-Amherst. Now he lives in Minnesota, where he makes do.