Papal Eulogy

A Sestina

by Dustin Michael

FAREWELL, old, gentle, leaning, limping Pope
John Paul the Second. You had a full life
-- a lot of souls to steer and pains to bear.
I hope that's all behind you as you cross
as briskly as a baby lamb into
the pastures of the Lord. By the way, would

you drop a good word for me, Karol? Would
you pull some strings? Since you're not acting pope
anymore, I was hoping you'd see to
some non-Catholics getting eternal life
and also help me figure four across:
I need to know the Polish word for ''bear.''

Speaking of puzzles, how do Catholics bear
the guilt of every single morning wood?
Unless I take care of that, my eyes cross.
When you went skiing, did they call you ''pope-
sicle?'' Did you expect that in your life
you'd start out an actor but turn into

a pope-star? Did you ever once think to
do commercials with Snap and Crackle? Bear
with me, Karol -- I'm aware that in life
you liked a laugh. After you died, we would
wholly see stock footage: laughs, grins -- a pope
every bit as cheerful as he is Cross.

Your good humor enabled you to cross
age gaps to reach out to young people, to
travel widely; no wonder you were pope-
ular, even in spots where most folks bear
long, mean grudges for Christian fudges. Wood,
marble and gold won't contain your good life,

merely the splintered frame that held up life --
a lifeless, joyless relic like the Cross,
a photo op for sweating tourists. Would
you grin to think you've gone from pontiff to
pon-stiff? Before we have a pun tiff, bear
a final blessing, non-Catholic to pope:

Life for you, while papal, neither veered to
Cross-abandoned nor chapel-bound. Run, bear --
woods of heaven are yours in which to pope.

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