If you have never felt the vague disappointment of witnessing something almost-good, now you can say you have.
Would you answer my questions, God,
if I ceased to ask?
If my silence rose
into your night like fragile glass;
if I offered you the thin, cool
shape of my neglect?
If I, like you, did not speak?
Would you answer me?
Like you I would retreat beneath
all the dark corners in me.
Like you – a presence to be known
and not felt.
Like you – a presence curling inward
Like you –
and not at all like you.
You with your face I would die to know.
Traced in the dark outlines
of the thorns you will not take from me.
Gilded points of translucent night,
braided glass crowning my remorse.
Questions sown in the skin,
your face known in the negative imprint.
These thorns you will not – will not – take.
Pain redoubled through
the window of my outstretched hands.
Spread before you in the silver
curves of your almost-embrace.
And in your eyes I saw reflected
the pale image of my pain.
I looked back at me in the glass.
You barely held me, and I hurt worse.
If I closed my eyes, God,
if I sank sighing into your dark, surrendered
my questions to the pain held
in your eyes – if I
with brittle sorrow drew closer
and bent myself along the careful shape of
your gaze – if I in silence ceased to beg…
Would you speak then?
The old come to churches to die.
Silver hair dominates the pews.
Wrinkled hands set the table,
lay the cloth,
place the empty chalice for the feast.
Tired eyes behold the host.
The old come to churches.
Arrive in a casket
laid over with white cloth
—empty body laid over—
as the aged hold their vigil.
As the dead bury the dead.