Donal Mahoney: “The Man Who Lives in the Gym”

The Man Who Lives in the Gym

    St. Procopius College
    after World War II

The man who lives in the gym
sleeps in a nook up the stairs
to the rear. Since Poland
he’s slept there, his tools
bright in a box locked

under his bed. At noon bells
call him down to the stones
that weave under oaks to the abbey
where he at long table takes
meals with the others
the monks have left in

for a week, or a month, or a year
or forever, whatever
the need. The others all know
that in Poland his wife
had been skewered, his children
partitioned, that he had escaped

in a freight car of hams.
So when Brother brings in, on a gun
metal tray, orange sherbet for all
in little green dishes,
they blink at his smile,
they join in his laughter.

first published in The Davidson Miscellany, Vol. 7 No. 2, 1972
Davidson, NC