First Letter to John

           You ask me to confirm your account. You ask me as if records could be true. I answer let both the lettered and unlettered have his voice. In the main you’ve followed my relation of that night, though I note you’ve left out the moon and the locusts, as well as my disinterested . . . but you know this. I’ll not niggle over small omissions and additions. Foremost is that you let his voice sound, and I make allowance knowing how you loved him and how he took your head in his hands.

           Our Vocalisimus he was. If as legend has it we Jews found the stops, and the Greeks the vowels, then he invented the word. Without breath, as they say, the letter is dead. So why are you still obsessed with belief and water? This is a dry land but we’re deluged, God knows, with belief. The very word swims before my eyes.

           Let him speak in your text, yes, where words rise against words. The language streaming from his mouth carried us like leaves—leaping, plunging, erratic—remember? Let him say all the letters out loud. I can only be grateful for what you’ve resurrected of that cataract. You give us his riddling. And you let us be swept into his maelstroms of monologue. Manic interpreter, frothing talker, he had to be, like our old inspired prophet-poets, of God.