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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