Judas, If You Want

In a town you know
a man in green walks down a road
and stops
as if to photograph a house, a dog, or
a tangle of iron tubes on a stretch of lawn.
He stays so long, so still, he begins to be
forgotten, like a heap of rocks or a tree
the townsfolk pass by every hour
without a thought. But in their dreams,
suddenly, a familiar stranger stands
beside the stream that hurries them
past rows of huge bird-shapes
clacking their beaks, someone like a sister

or a man dressed in rags
and come at last to the ruined house of a friend
whose eyes are wide as money,
whose feet kick and sway above his floor
like the ghost of Fred Astaire.

So what? So what? I can hear you
watching, itching to pay the fee and go
before the man wakes and looks at you again.
Is it true he knows our names
and what we spent our lives refusing?
When he turns toward us, he will be holding
an old mistake that never goes away.
Call it trespass, that thing we pray to forgive
and be forgiven. Call it Judas, if you want.
Or face it, face it at last: the man in green
is somehow wrong, and, like all of us,
cannot be changed.

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