Note: Since I was raised by a Southern Baptist preacher, I still pray for my loved ones every night, though it probably does as much good as throwing salt over my shoulder. Nevertheless, I do it, but just in case I also append all of the last four digits of their SS#s.
The Prayer on Sunday
The sun’s uncoupled from the day,
gone skulking off like The Little Engine
That Wouldn’t, leaving my window
a barcode of bare trees in snow,
the migraine aura of lamplight,
and desire, that shyster always asking
for permission to badger the witless.
Spring is distant as happiness
or health and nothing helps, unless
tonight the teardrops turn into stars
or by morning flowers bloom
on empty graves that heal
and leave no scars.
Play, for the Night Is Coming
The corkboard in the dark, chill vestibule
of the eleventh-century Norman church
announces: “THE SERVICE WILL BE
GIN AT 5 O’CLOCK.” And will be
every night, praise God,
world without end.
Our Southern Baptist church
was no artifact, the only light
fluorescent, no bleeding statues
nor black-lacquered Bible scenes,
just the watery watercolor
of the River Jordan on the wall
behind the baptistery
where I was dunked at seven,
and Jesus suffered brown and yellow children
under date palms in the nursery.
Our shot-glass blood was Welch’s grape,
His body broken in saltines
on burgundy velvet in
the silver-plated plates.
We kids took the biggest shards
since the squirming sermons dragged
away past noon. Once, I heard
Preacher Daniel’s “Let us pray,”
as a dozy “play,” impossible
since this was Sunday.
But now it’s time to stop this reminiscence--
the sun is over the yard-arm of the cross at, what?
the sixteenth hour? Bringing in the sheaves,
if only of paper and memory, is thirsty work.
The slanting gold of afternoon
through high windows rivals the tall
and garish panes of Chartres,
and pierces like a spear of light the font’s
martini glass. It’s time for Nones,
Vespers, whatever, and now I hold my own
high, mixed-up mass, stick the thorn
of toothpick in a skull of olive,
dip it, lick the chrism
from its little, briny brow,
and eat the host, immortal now.
© 2018 William Greenway
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