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Early Church
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Published: Wed Apr 15 2020
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Early Church

Silence inside the cold edifice,
                                                                  household of the word,
                   sailing ship of the spirit.

A winding path leads up to a door
                 past red-berried holly, clipped yew,
          marble and granite slabs standing upright,
                              names mossy, dates neglected.

The stonecutter’s hand, the woodcarver’s
                             chisel and mallet
                cut crockets and quatrefoils,
legends of martyrdom, a saintly rabbi nailed to a cross.

          Everything we believe or don’t believe or half-believe
or once believed or aren’t quite sure about
                     floats in this enclosed air.

A jar is broached, an amphora of scented oil.
           A woman laves
                     with Aramaic hands
feet dusty from Galilean roads
                             —the words of her story echoing in
the language of gnostics and empire-builders.

But she doesn’t hear any of this.
She kisses the man’s feet, her tears falling for all time.
                     She dries them with her hair.

And so, with a whiff of scent,
                     a whish of seersucker,
                             we open our little books and kneel.

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