At the friary lunch we chat about End of Days,
and who was at the Last Supper. John and Peter
to the left of Jesus, Judas clutching his moneybag,
verklempt on the right, Mary Magdalene. I’m playing her,
in my splashy red-rose dress and Jewish sarcasm.
Bro Jesus at our table is Latin, too good-looking.
When he confesses he has a poem to share,
I’ll be damned if I swoon. I pitch San Juan’s “Poem
for the Ascent of Mount Carmel,” stained
with the poet’s erotic sweat for God.
Old Father Conrad flashes snapshots of his macaw,
that he has trained to shriek, “Praise be the Lord!”
He ministers at the cancer ward—no one begrudges him
a flamboyant bird in his room.
No one but Benjamin Péret, and he’s crammed
between acid-free pages of a paperback.
Sometimes in the morning my desk is wet
from condensation of the water glass.
But I dream Benny’s been here, spitting
from the grave at every priest he spies,
soaking them like a loaded Surrealist
in the day. Now he drives the bus to Père Lachaise.
What happened to you, Benny,
in that vestry in la Vendée, behind those heavy
Marilyn Kallet is the author of fifteen books, including Packing Light: New and Selected Poems; her next collection of poems, The Love That Moves Me, will be out from Black Widow Press in March, 2013. She has translated Surrealist poets Paul Eluard and Benjamin Péret, and contemporary Parisian poet Chantal Bizzini. Kallet is Director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Tennessee, where she is also Professor of English. Each spring she teaches poetry workshops for the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, at their site in Auvillar, France. “Soaked” was composed at the Mary Anderson Center, Mount St. Francis, Indiana, where the friars are wonderfully hospitable to poets (despite Péret’s view!)