Never ask the wind why it heaves its shoulders

just after you’ve swept away all the leaves,

as if it doesn’t know your need for distraction.

Never ask the wind why it pushes your car

in the opposite direction of errands toward news

of someone dying we thought would live forever,

our beloved Fr. Virgil. Told he welcomes visitors,

don’t ask the wind what you’re doing in his room,

the angels already humming love.

Ask what to say to this man of God

who always had the right words for every occasion.

The wind continues to howl, whips palm fronds around

speaking the language of wings, something reverent

occurring you’ve heard before, the rattle

of loose shingles and screens, limbs being torn

from their source, the soul in its labor toward light.

Light spills through his open mouth, like honey.

You stood for everything good, says the wind.

We will always remember you on the Mission steps,

arms outstretched, greeting the faithful and unfaithful,

the musicians, the dancers and artists. We bow in gratitude

for marrying us, baptizing us, speaking of God

as He and She, in each, you always with a smile to be alive

another day. We bow for how you led the way,

helped us navigate strife, understand the improbable,

for quenching our thirst for the word-of peace,

our city made sweeter with you in our midst.

Now the wind sings, he’s mine, his mission complete,

tosses his wide brimmed hat aside and they’re off,

these forces of nature, in a rush of leaves.


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