How the Mission Came to Be

Someone raked in a veritable World Bank of pesos, and so
brought the impossible to pass--
The crossing of continents and their intervening seas
was done in a flash.

Costumes from Italy, hundreds of wigs descending on sensible
and daffy heads.
And the food! shrimp in the jungle and ice cream cones for
children and the childish and their dads.

Class distinctions were honored like ten commandments
at a punctilious Port royal--
Actors dined with actors, workers sat on their hands,
Colombians perched like parrots on the lowest rung of all.

A fiesta! spectacles and astonishing stunts by
night and day,
The Indians swam the air like fireflies, the altitudinous stars said
their silvery say.

And the pesos fell, a tropical rain, a Holy Spirited British
Protestant sign
of predestination or some such, under the camera's omnivorous
eye.

Then the canisters rolled like wheels of Ezekiel, heavy with
auguries across the seas
Rolled up jungle and ocean and bird calls and tarantulas,
in short, all of us.

Life was a lark in Eden (except for spiders and serpents,
except for the rumor, the wrong jump, the odd pratfall)--
Time catapulted, world syncopated; a ripe mango in a
shaken orchard. Immortality is all!

Daniel Berrigan, S.J., was a poet, peace activist, and a Sojourners contributing editor when this article appeared.

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