All I remember of Chicago
was Chagall lighting up the rafters
of a museum.
Like dawn captured in a vault of jewels,
the stained glass wrapped
the dull gray of Michigan
in a wad of light,
and I stood breathless
as a happy man will do,
not at a cremation,
but the birth of a star,
coming from the soul
of the old artist’s eyes.
What did Chagall see?
Heaven over breakfast?
Paradise at noon?
The chamber of God in the evening?
I live in my American civilization,
among our engines and stock quotes,
with the nerve gas and pharmaceuticals,
and this gray man from the east,
this angel of Russian dust
and Jewish prayer.
Like a great hawk
with beauty in the talons of his hands,
the supreme golden vision of his heart,
he makes the sun rise in a museum’s ceiling,
making me feel the city
like a prodigal come home,
to see its spirit uplifted by a saint
who opens our eyes.