Pontifex in Retirement

pope-benedict-xvi

He puts the lotion on his skin in the sign of the cross and rings a tiny bell to summon more daiquiris. Nobody comes. The girl in the striped polo shirt that has been waiting on him from the beach bar doesn’t even know he has a bell. Nobody could hear it over the steel drums anyway. He pulls the peach-colored bucket hat down on his head; everything feels so light without a crown or vestments. He imagines them in a closet somewhere in Rome or a glass case perhaps. He was not allowed all the momentos he would have liked.

His skin feels a little too human out here on the beach, pores empty of the fragrant smoke from burning incense and filling up quickly with bits of sand and oil.  He looks at his hand for awhile, then waves to the crowd around him but they all have their faces buried in cell phones and magazines. He looks at the sky as if he expects to see someone asleep up there, a God who has already retired long ago, someone who knows well how to be master of their golden years.

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