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ISSUE:  Spring 1981
Timothy’s puppets were the Lord’s.
In the garage he gave shows which began with loud winds
  and moaning.
It was I who left notes in the neighbors’ mailboxes begging for
  an end to war,
I who grew shrill at the streetlight
arguing with boys
whose fathers I hated.
It was Timothy who drew their brothers into the dust.
He wanted the scenery to smell old,
the children to feel Israel in its dryness.

First there was a death.
We had to quiet the oldest boys immediately,
scare them from the curtains.
Where the voices rose
had to be far away and the apostles were preaching to slaves
  and breaking the law slowly,
carefully as if it were bread and they would share it,
  pass it from hand to hand.
Timothy would have his fingers inside Paul’s arms,
inside Barnabas’s,
and be throwing gumdrops to the crowd.

They had to have something to catch.
And we had to have a fool,
a silly Jesus,
a fake one first to spill water and get the children wet
  and laughing,
to have enough music and silliness to make us neighbors
  for the long walk up the Hill.
For Timothy’s puppets were the Lord’s,
and all week he had lifted each,
and tried out voices—sent anger into one,
then gentleness, then fear.

On Saturdays, he took Jesus
off the hook and the cross out of the props
and slipped him up his arm
and onto the cross. I tied him there with my free hand.
A second curtain slid back
and there was God
in our garage. The dust was rising,
we made it rise. We made the children cry,
“No! No! Release him!”
and stamp their feet, beg for mercy.
And we gave it.


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