“Out of Focus” by Rhina P. Espaillat

Rhina P. Espaillat


“Denouncing ‘Wolves’…,” New York Times, 2/25/19, p. A12

Upright above their lush emerald bed,
a squad of crimson tulips, row on row,
without a field to muster on. Instead,
figures—two rampant dancers—and below,
a man before a counter.
  What I’ve seen
in today’s Times comes clear, but only after
I find my glasses: priests, in their green
vestments and red caps, at Mass!
of course, greets now-familiar things:
an altar—it’s in Rome; the Pope kneels there;
angels are spreading their triumphant wings
over all those entrusted to their care.
Wings, prayer, denunciation: hardly powers
to match the wolves that hide among the flowers.

from Poets Respond
March 5, 2019


Rhina P. Espaillat: “This poem was inspired by the photograph that accompanied an article about the recent gathering in Rome to deal with the persistence of child abuse by priests. I was first struck by the fact that on noticing the photo without my glasses, I mistook it for a flower bed in a strange setting, and was later deeply disappointed to read that nothing substantial had been accomplished to solve this painful and criminal issue.” (web)

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