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Doubting Thomas

Jefferson Holdridge

Unbearably beautiful and unbearably sad
Is what I should have said when you complained
Of ennui, the affliction of youth, the half-fad,
As you slowly fell from childhood’s sustained
Balancing act between the real and ideal,
Which made the future inexplicably dry
At the threshold. Seeing little appeal
Beyond wandering, you’d always irritably sigh.
Then, facing the sheer expanse of the real,
Like Satan gazing on the universe
Hanging in a chain, or Rafael sweeping
Through stars and planets, set to immerse
Himself in knowledge of the world, while keeping
Faith, you felt, as you packed your bags, an inkling
Of beauty and sadness, and so couldn’t decide
What to do. There was the girl with the ring
In her nose and glasses. Time and tide
Made you admit that you were both too young
To last as a couple, but you weren’t ready to go.
That is the gist of those folk songs you’d sung.
Then duty called and you went. A week or so
After, I saw her outside one of the churches
You’d loved. She who, like Christ’s wound,
Was hesitantly touched—a ship that lurches
Before docking. Venice is now festooned
With tourists in nearly every neighborhood.
I wonder if later she sensed that you could—
If not believe—perhaps have understood.

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