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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Frankie's Rosary

I was looking at my rosaries
not too long ago,
all of them, twenty at least--
but this one in particular:
this pearl-colored one,
inexpensive, made precious
by time and memory.
It’s been mine
since I was thirteen.

It used to be Frankie's.
It was a gift to me
from his mom Concetta
for my Confirmation.

Frankie must've gotten the rosary
for his First Communion:
it's a child's rosary,
with beads too small
for my full-grown hands.

Concetta cared for
and prayed for her son
after the accident.
He was fourteen
when the car struck him
as he biked down
Woodland Avenue.

My mom was Frankie’s
home health aide.
And Frankie was at home,
in his bed, in his room
made holy by a crucifix,
by images of several saints,
by the love of family,
his mother and father,
two brothers, a sister,
dozens of visiting cousins.

Concetta would hold
her son’s hand
and talk to him
for hours, every day.
My mom would feed Frankie
through the feeding-tube,
would keep him clean,
would change the sheets.

Frankie's rosary
has stayed with me
from Latin School to Chestnut Manor,
from John Paul to Francis,
from Reagan to Obama,
from Pac-Man to the iPhone-6,
from Laura Branigan to Adele.

Throughout my years of truancy
from holy Mother Church,
it waited patiently
in a small desk-drawer
until I came back.

I keep the rosary now
in a small diaphanous pouch.
Sometimes, I pray with it,
large fingers moving
with extra care
through the pearly
and luminous decades.

Frankie’s gone, it must be
twenty years now.
His parents, too,
Concetta and Giorgio.
His older brother Carlo
just last year.

When I die,
this rosary will pass
into someone else's hands,
someone who never knew
Frankie and his relatives.
But that person, too,
will be part of this history,
this mystery in which
souls are bound together
into a garland of grace,
into a family of faith.

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