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The Incarnation

                                    Kevin Boyle


I’m not sure I ever understood the theology
exactly, but the parish sponsored Beef & Beers—
all you could eat and drink—for twice
the minimum wage, perhaps because of Pius’s encyclical
on the fair price or just wage, perhaps to allow us
to meet a mate and marry within the faith,
not wander to those various sects—enough to field
a football team—or the Jews. We’d pound them back,
and in the closing hour try our feet in a kind of
guttural dance, our soles having become thicker
like our tongues, and we’d dance alone, or all guys,
or, if we were lucky and the spirit upon us,
with girls, their bodies temples, their bodies wealth.
They were equally ripped and as eager, it seemed,
to press the flesh. Even though we were from Inky,
or were close friends of the parish, we wouldn’t know
until some homily or years later that Incarnation,
the parish name, was reenacted at each Beef & Beer,
where, after the proper time, we went from spiritmen
to pure bodies, Centaurs; from the shy, the halting
speech, to a kind of song so much a part of the earth
we’d almost notice the slurs and getting foot-tied
that’d drag us toward the ground, or at least the street
when, after the DJ shut up, we’d all huddle round
the cars—those with cars—and those without would
huddle round someone with a car, and in that
sacred time after 2 AM we’d begin to unloosen
the stiffened nipples from their bras, or allow
our own zippers to be toyed with, just off Fifth
and Ashdale where the cops would ride right past
and raise their caps or flash some shit-licking grin
as they watched us bring our bodies into communion.
Rough stuff up against the side panel, a back against
the cooled-down hood, the whole world spinning
in revolutions, the changing neighborhood changing
in a welcome way, and the tar wasn’t just something
to ride on, but to lie on, a roll on the black hay,
a grasping so assured, so furious even, that the body
became glorified, extravagant, blessed. And come
morning, we wouldn’t hesitate to rise for the last mass
and scope the church for the ones we knew the night before,
looking from pew to shining pew for those bodies
come down now, calmed so far they were almost ready to
work again on Monday at A & P, McEwen and Sons
Beer Distributors, Acme, Norman R. Vogel Tree Surgeons
or Rug Layers Inc. Glory to God in the highest, and a piece
to his people on earth,
we’d joke. And now, years later,
we realize it worked: nearly all have married in the faith we’ve lost.


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