Catherine Staples

Red Rover


Augustine heard the children’s voices
And he knew: Tolle lege, tolle, lege….
Was it syllable & sound that wooed him?

The old pull of music over matter. Like Red rover,
Red rover, send Augie right over. Shirts billowing,
The good rush of wind. Like love of Latin,

Hatred of Greek, a child’s clarity cuts through
The din deciding. God’s voice tumbling like eggs
A rattle in boiling water, sweet tumult

Of the first kitchen, fogging the windows,
Dimming the high pane over the hall door.
He was waiting in that place past grief.

Perhaps it was nothing he heard—
Just his sorting mind, sorting
One of childhood’s refrains.

Like hearing your name in cold air,
That reddening flush climbing the limbs—
They’re daring you to break the line, to pass

Through the kingdom of grasped hands
Far side, off side, out of kilter, echoing.
Nothing the same after this—

By what miracle do they know your name?