had pulled a switch blade from beneath her vestments
And tried to cut out my tongue. But she bruised her own hands
on the keys of the vast organ towering at the back of the nave
and the choir roiled in like striped smoke, taking its place.
It was Lent. The Cross was on its side draped in black netting.
It was the time of weeping. Punctured, repudiated, I shattered away
like a breaking plate to the bridge over the river and wondered
if my friend who lives there year on year at a small campsite had died.
No flames in the rippling dark. But I am a veteran of flight—unlicensed.
I lift off at the sign of trouble, and came back on fire to avenge
the misdeeds of the babbling peri-menopausal choir, the red-faced
priest with the gum of rectitude in his mouth who holds the Gospel
according to Himself over his head. Gestures signifying drama
Sans lux perpetua. The agnus dei dripping with blood, stigmata
on the wrists of the fresco angels. Before, I bowed my head
in the serene light from the stained glass and the priest said
Thank you. I am sin incarnate, I often think, when I see that
I am being observed from the safety of trees near the border.
I was thrown down a flight of stairs. I was kicked into a corner,
my hip shattered. I was fed to the roiling dogs in the backyard
That were eating each other. You don’t know what it was.
You can’t think of it. But then if you are singing in a choir
hoping to become a pain-free angel and then excoriated,
cast out, falling down through the air of your own soul blamed,
Then as Lucifer was, blamed for the Fall of Man—if the church
is named for the Healer and you went down into the water
cupping your hands to take the Host like everyone not knowing
you were hated and feared, if another priest said you don’t believe
You’re loved because you aren’t and if it was proven that night
of the Rheinberger Requiem you had rehearsed, wood-shedded,
reaching out to the about to be widowed other soprano next to you,
the Chippewa who had the heart attack and couldn’t sing above
A whisper and then were cast out, blamed and scapegoated
would you do as I, rising up and blowing fire over
the sanctimonious there, flaying the hypocrites with your lash?