in memoriam, William Barker, Ph.D.
“Take a deep breath,” said Bill,
my physicist colleague, soon to retire.
I did so, theatrically, and he proclaimed,
just as theatrically, that three
of the atoms among the molecules of air
I’d just inhaled were the very atoms
As a scientist, he could assure me
that what had been a part of Him
was literally, this moment,
a part of me—and so on, with every breath I took.
Ever since his death, I’ve been trying
to estimate (inhaling deeply),
how many atoms of Bill’s were sporting now,
with Jesus’s, inside my lungs.
—from Rattle #20, Winter 2003