RD ( / )

Such Solemn Service

St. Agnes church was still there.
Nothing had changed much save the bell that kept mum,
But dad was dead. In front to welcome
The congregation stood pond,
Aged now, without former glories
Of flowers and fishes,
A retired geriatric -
An Alzheimer's victim with fleeting
Flashes of memory watered down drains.
Glass windows caught sunlight
In drips with solemn stains,
Single eyes of candles like Cyclops
Bent in limbo then burned straight to heaven,
Heads of family and friends
Bobbing like buoys spoke in library silence,
Around the neck priest wore his ring
Of confidence and served the slide
Of brown castors bearing brier
With incense puffing like chimney
From the Sistine Chapel -
Preliminaries to prayer.
Words of Jesus: "I am the resurrection
And the life: he that believes in me,
Though he were dead, yet shall he live…."
Bounced off rafters and rolled down the aisle
With promise. Rites ruled day,
But where are rituals to hold still, hammer
From raining upon a box, blows that nail us?
Organ smokes pipes with a shrill high,
Hymn: "How Great Thou Art" thumps hearts
Cracking insides with each thud.
We fight pain in tortured silence
And stifle sniffles in seeming dignity,
Eulogy, prayers and songs of praise
Cast off face covers….we wept
Softly, loudly, uncontrollably,
Unashamedly….we wept.
Theology, not known for soothing words,
Is a stranger today without tears,
But as we left St. Agnes church
With such heavy hearts,
Voices of logic and reason question:
Is God great?
And fade into a hologram universe.

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Langston Hughes


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