Fathom Mag

Alice Rose

Published on:
July 12, 2022
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1 min.
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Alice Rose

What happens at mass is that a single point
explodes into a billion, billion pieces, and the pieces
fly away at incredible speeds, and they become
atoms, then gasses, then stars and planets,
and on one planet amoebas appear, and the amoebas
become fish, and the fish become dinosaurs,
and the dinosaurs become monkeys and dogs, everything
is always becoming something else,
until finally the universe becomes conscious of itself
and we’re standing there looking around
thinking wow, this is really beautiful. This is really sad.

When Jesus appears in the flesh
we don’t recognize him at first. 
We think he’s the gardener.

What happens at mass is that an old man and old woman
walk down a breezeway with a baby.
They must be in their seventies, maybe their eighties. 
The old man is bowlegged and wearing jeans. 
He looks like he’s worked his whole life. 
The old woman has wrapped a shawl around her head
and swaddled the baby, but it’s the old man
who is holding the baby as they walk.

She is four months old, they tell me.
Her name is Alice Rose. 

You baptized her, the old woman says, smiling,
a couple of months ago.

The baby’s head is smooth and soft
and there is a band around it, and on the band,
in the center of her forehead,
there is a little white rose made of cloth.

I don’t know where the mother is.

What happens at mass is that I keep watching
the old man as he sits in the pew
looking down at the baby and smiling,
rocking her in his arms.

Chris Anderson
Chris Anderson is professor emeritus of English at Oregon State University and a Catholic deacon. He has written a number of books, both poetry and prose, including You Never Know (Stephen F. Austin State University Press, 2018). These poems, along with "Alice Rose," will appear in the collection Love Calls Us Here, forthcoming from Wildhouse Press. He and his wife live in Corvallis, Oregon.

Cover image by Billy Huynh.

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