Spring 1991, Volume 8.1
Nighttime in the House of God
At night when the church is closed,
doors dead-bolted, sacristy locked,
no one comes looking for God.
Thy hymnals stand stiff, unread,
and baptistery, nacreous at night,
goes waveless as the parted sea.
Two-sixteen were here on Sunday,
spilling benedictions in the vestries
where children are held from sermon.
Collection was light but amply blessed
by those whose sacraments attest
there are no free rides on the Lord.
But now this house, this weekend retreat
for the holy, is shut as the eyes
of the prayerful, dark as sin.
Spikers cross the stains of glass,
and collecting plates, boneless,
sit like dirty dishes of the night
in a studio apartment for the soul.
And a faint odor, as vague
as a forwarding address, haunts
the pews where the gospel dozes,
null as a lease on life.
Gather over cress and drinks at midday,
Nodding of clambakes and charters to the island
As fiberglass cruisers crisscross below
Sending nautical farts rumbling into the bay.
At Jimmy's the seadogs are bad but they sell,
Though the mustard clings like barnacles to the breath,
And near the hobie-cats that line the littered beach
Children collect fish, now visible in death,
Like upturned silver dollars starting to swell.
Beyond the buoy where brash ships greet the sea
A rude outboard comes too near the wall;
Its hull rides roughly against the rocks
As the siren sends its nagging nasal squall
And brokers pause mid-salad, turning their chairs to see.