The Church of Omnivorous Light
On a long walk over the mountains you'd hear
them first, the pang and chorus
of their jubilations, as though you'd strayed
out of Hawthorne into Cotton Mather—
such joyous remorse, such cranky raptures.
And you'd love their fundamental squawking,
little Pentacostal magpies, diminutive
raven priests. You'd walk into their circle
like a drag queen into a Texas truck stop—
silence first, then the caterwauls, the righteous gacks.
Someone's gutted out a deer is all.
In the late autumn snow you'd see the deacons'
tracks—ursine, feline, canine—sweet eucharist of luck
and opportunity for them all. Take and eat,
clank the birds, but not too much. It might be a while.
You'd wonder, yes you would,
and maybe nudge with the toe of your boot
the seeming rigidity of the severed esophagus.
It's gently belled, like a deaf man's antique horn.
Breathless, the lungs subside to carnate blood.
You'd want to go, but you'd want to stay;
you'd want a way to say your part in the service
going on: through high windows
the nothing light, the fourteen stations
of the clouds, the offertory of the snow.
Imagine the brethren returned, comical,
hopping in surplice and cassock, muttering,
made dyspeptic by your presence there, but hopeful too,
that something might yet come and open
your coarse, inexplicable soul to their sight.
Robert Wrigley, Earthly Meditations: New and
Selected Poems, Penguin Books, 2006.