Sunday, January 22, 2006

Holy Communion

In the obscurity of the ancient church
Steeped in incense,
Smoke from flickering candles
Mingles with sunbeams
Filtering through stained-glass windows,
Tinting with rainbow hues The altar blossoms
Drifting onto the marble floor
Then into the front pews
File a flock of white-clad darlings
With well-scrubbed faces
And chubby cheeks
Bulging with sugared almonds.
And outside on the cold stone steps
In the shadow of the porch
A sorrowing bare-footed gypsy
Sits with babe And outstretched hand.
While portly matrons
With husbands and relations
In expensive new spring clothes,
Dip their fingers in holy water
And cross themselves;
And each and every doting mother
With happiness and pride
Stretches her neck to try to see
Her own beloved child.
But now photographers arrive
Clicking and flashing from every side,
Despite the old priest's remonstrations,
Who in desperation then resignation
Tries to explain to the congregation,
The real and sacred signification
Of the Holy Communion...
But nobody listens.
Lights flash. Women chat.
Babies cry
Children run joyfully
Up and down the aisle...
And now it's over At last!
Excitedly they pour out
Down the steps
Into the sunlight,
Totally ignoring the gypsy.
And after more photos,
Climb with their angelic children
Into their washed and polished cars
And drive off
To their long awaited banquets.
While in the quiet of the lonely church
The priest laments,
And the gypsy
With a thousand curses,
Trails back to her encampment.

by Jules


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