Volume 69, Number 1 · Fall 2019

Forgive Them for They Do Not Know What

Today: I can’t stop watching the video
            of the Pope yelling at the man

in the crowd. The Pope is pulled forward
            so hard he nearly falls onto another

enthusiastic fan in a chair. He is pissed!
            Yesterday: nada, boredom,

routine snow on already salted
            streets, but today: A man assaulted

the Pope by accident! Call the police!
            The Pope is yelling! A spectacle!

A drama! O, peaceful papa. O, holy father.
            “He’s only human,” the commenters

remark on social media, on which all things
            are called by their real name. Human.

I went to mass this weekend with my folks.
            I hadn’t been for months.

Above the altar hung a modern statue
            of an anorexic Christ (who, I must say,

resembled the artist formerly known as Prince).
            His body sparkled, he held

a wishbone, or was it the holy spirit? Bird
            or bone? Who can tell the difference?

The priest looked like William H. Macy
            and spoke of moral logic and intuition.

Afterward, we had brunch, ate eggs, smoked salmon,
            ham sandwich. My intuition

said yes. Then my moral logic spoke to me.
            Poor animals, it said, who died for my sins,

for my desire, my hunger, my anger. My mother
            took photos of our plates with her

phone. On social media, crowds of people
            applauded our croque madame.

Again, the Pope yells at a man, a stranger
            in Mexico, on my tenth

watch of the video. I see a flame in Pope’s
            eyes, a sort of passion, and I do,

shamelessly, wonder if the Pope has ever
            had sex, and what he would be like,

though he probably never has, probably
            never will. His will is too great. But only

human. Call the police! Someone wanted
            a piece of the Pope, and now he’s pissed.

Another person commented: “Forgive them
            for they do not know what” and it ended

there. None of them know what. But it’s fine.
            I don’t know what. You don’t know what.

Pope don’t know what. Wishbone-spirit knows.
            But he isn’t human, not one bit.

Marianne Chan grew up in Stuttgart, Germany and Lansing, Michigan. She is the author of All Heathens, forthcoming from Sarabande Books in March 2020. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in the Michigan Quarterly Review, the Cincinnati Review, the Indiana Review, West Branch, Poetry Northwest, the Rumpus, and elsewhere. She is currently pursuing a PhD in creative writing at the University of Cincinnati, where she is an Albert C. Yates Fellow.