Bryan Merck ~ Farewell to the Flesh

Crawdad Morgan is amped up.
He has his step ladder with a seat on top for his grandson.
Last week, he watched a dolphin give birth at the Aquarium.
Now, he is about to lay his burden down near the corner
of Rampart and Canal Street. This is the day to indulge,
Fat Tuesday.

Costumed revelers on gaudy floats will pass today, throwing favors,
various purple, green and gold beads, doubloons, tambourines
and even a few coconuts. Crawdad has several moving boxes full of this stuff at home.
He and his grandson, Ti Jake, will expend great energy calling out
“Throw me something, mister!” and catching the throws.

The dolphin did not appear to have any trouble giving birth.
The baby dolphin took up the common dance with alacrity.

Crawdad is on the board of the Aquarium.
He is also a dedicated deep sea fisherman.
Last year, he landed a six foot Blue Marlin.

Ti Jake arrives with his mother, Crawdad’s daughter Joy.
Ti Jake is 5. His grandfather helps him into his perch.
“Let’s get ready, Crawdaddy,” he squeels.

Crawdad has a brother, Lorenzo, who is a priest.
Lorenzo was with Crawdad at the birth of the dolphin last week.
He said “Nature does not have to appeal to humans, or does it?”

There are hundreds of thousands of people all up and down Canal Street today.
There is revelry here; that is why everyone is out, pretty much.

Last year, brother Father Lorenzo had a near death experience
after a heart attack. He saw Jesus in approachable light; he hugged Lorenzo.

When he was 4, Crawdad ate his first piece of King Cake with a baby in it.
His mom actually put the baby in there and gave him the piece of cake.
Carnival season begins with 12th Night hijinks on the St Charles streetcar.

Crawdad loves Ti Jake. He gambles it all on that love.
He just does this without a thought. His heart has good treasure.
Like most of us he cannot articulate much of this.
12th night is the night the wise men came bearing gifts.

About 2,000 years ago, in a cave used for a stable, a man named Joseph
helped his wife, Mary, give birth to a son. Oxen, donkeys, chickens and a goat watched.

Various floats pass.
A Marine Corps marching band walks by playing the Marines’ Hymn.
More floats and then a Salvation Army band playing the Battle Hymn of the Republic.
More floats. And so on.

Ti Jake is new in his body. He remembers Heaven.
At night, in his dreams, he often goes there. He thinks everyone’s life is like that.
He will soon look back on this and consign it to whimsy.
Then he will forget and forget that he has forgotten.
He will continue to visit Heaven in his night dreaming, as we all do.

Almost everyone on Canal Street today has forgotten that he or she has forgotten Heaven.
This is a necessary compromise when taking up a body in spacetime. Faith
can only be cultivated when the spirit is moored in the flesh.

Today, it is revelry. Inmate men and inmate women swell on the tides of celebration.
This is hope’s high pomp and circumstance. All the krewes and all the onlooker-participants
are children, again, playing elaborate and necessary games together. These feed
the persistent stirrings of the soul for release, return. Now everything moves toward
something, the knowledge of a happening grounded in overweening joy, the very death of God.

Mary Magdalene thought the risen Jesus was a gardener,
he who took up a body with us to accomplish our cure and make possible our returning
through flesh, the need for faith, belief, since the memory cannot persevere
and we must subsist on seasons of carnival.


Bryan Merck has published in DM, America, Eunoia Review, Kentucky Review, Pleiades and others. He is a past winner of the Southern Literary Festival Poetry Prize and the Barkesdale-Maynard Fiction and Poetry Prizes. He lives in south Georgia with his wife Janice. He is at

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