“In a Sentimental Mood”; Brother Ass; Manual Typewriter; Palms

Brother Ass

That’s what Saint Francis called his body,
an obstinate donkey
he’d beat or walk through a briar patch
or heave headfirst into a snowbank, naked—
a dumb beast, loud and filthy,
whose frank appetites were an offense to God.

I mortified my body for half a century
by simply ignoring it,
taking a strong back and endurance for granted,
feeding and watering and grooming fitfully,
making it carry way too much
for far too long. That’s what pack animals do.

Brother Ass is sturdy, sure-footed, patient.
He knows when to kick.
Now when I laugh, it’s his long-eared big head
that brays, baring crooked yellow teeth,
teaching me how to be humble—
my fellow friar, my twin, my poor balky burro.