What I Mean When I Say Elijah-Man
And it came to pass, […] there appeared a chariot of fire
by Geffrey Davis
and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah
went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it,
and he cried, My father, my father . . .
—2 Kings 2:11-12
That Sunday in Chehalis, my father testiﬁed
and I watched as he wept before the pulpit,
his shoulders heaving, his hands
clapping up thunder above our heads,
his mouth open on the note of awe as he told us
the promise God had made in the dream:
to bring him Home before he tasted death . . .
to wake him with the scent of flowers, proof
of His presence. I learned to cry like that, as if
I could sprain the heart, the body hurting its way out.
But that morning my mind snuck
back to the nights he took paychecks and split,
sometimes for weeks, his head and body
humming for dope, his wife and kids
suspended by the boundlessness of waiting.
If he returned, if his pockets were empty,
if the locks had been changed, I'd watch
from the window as he jumped and hollered,
wide-eyed and ripping the gate from its hinges or
shattering the windshields of cars along our street
with his ﬁsts—how, as the sirens drew near,
not even God could stop him.