The Face of Mercy (Unmentionables, 11)

[NOTE: The computer I was using fried on Sunday when I was writing this, so it was posted a day late, and I post dated it to make it fit the days for NaPoWriMo, and make it easier to track and find.]


(i) The face of mercy

is so dark. I couldn’t
make out his features.
He pulled his beater over
beside my sedan with its
flat tire, broken down
in the heart of the South Side
of Chicago, much too long
after midnight. Nearby,
the factory’s broken windows
also barely visible,
the streetlights burned out,
well most of them. He walks
slow, gangly, wiry, worn,
cheekbones jutting. I look
soft and white and well-fed,
Wonderbread. Two hours later,
he’s done jacking up my car,
replacing the tire. He won’t
take money, accepts my thanks,
calls this miracle “God’s work.”
He never told me his name.

(ii) The face of mercy

is tired and grizzled,
and doesn’t work here.
He’s probably the only one
for a hundred miles or more
who speaks even a little
of my language. I speak
none of his. I’m here on faith,
but there are no churches
for much farther than that,
in the thick of Eastern Europe
at a time when no one
even imagined the fall
of the Berlin Wall. Still,
he’s kind; explains I’m lost,
about to get on the wrong train
heading the wrong direction.
I grab his hand, grateful,
shake it vigorously, and run
for the right train, shouting,
“Thank you!” Later, I call him
my Communist angel of God.

(iii) The face of mercy

is a toddler, chubby,
unsteady, and so fast!
Running right past grandma,
past the eager aunts, right
to the saddest person there,
the only person looking away,
where the babe crawls up
onto the unwelcoming lap,
and refuses to leave.

(iv) The face of mercy

is young, soft, white, roundish
with a sharp chin and thick glasses,
surrounded by a dark cloud of fine,
frizzy hair. In class, she was quiet,
always, sitting in the back, while
I was loud and brash, right in front.
That morning, she went up to the prof,
and she told him what he was going
to do: let me take the final late.
That evening, the evening after
I was raped, she came to my door,
fierce and protective. I said no,
turned away. I didn’t let her in,
I couldn’t let anyone in. Still,
I never forgot that she came
without being asked, standing
in the dim twilight, in the doorway
where hours before my rapist stood
in the deep dark. It helped. It helped.
I never forgot her face, even if
I could never remember her name.

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3 responses to “The Face of Mercy (Unmentionables, 11)

  1. Very nice images – what Christians or any religious folk should be doing for others (toddlers and dogs always know who to help I think)

    • This past Sunday was the kick off for the Pope’s Jubilee Year of Divine Mercy. The Encyclical written in support of it is titled “Misericordiae Vultus” – the Face of Mercy. 🙂

  2. Pingback: Unmentionables (The Series) | Rosefire Rising

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