before meals: farmed fish multiply
without His intercession.
Bread production rises through
disease-resistant grains devised
scientifically to mitigate His faults.
like adolescents, uplifted to see
an oppressive father banished -
a bearded hermit - to the desert,
we confess to missing Him at times.
when, at the blossomy altar
of the registrar’s desk, we wait in vain
to be fed a line containing words
like ‘everlasting’ and ‘divine’.
explains the cosmos through equations,
leaving our planet to revolve on its axis
aimlessly, a wheel skidding in snow.
of plainchant from some echoey priory;
when the gospel choir raises its collective voice
to ask Shall We Gather at the River?
or the forces of the oratorio converge
on I Know That My Redeemer Liveth
and our contracted hearts lose a beat.
the crematorium recites the poem
about fearing no more the heat of the sun.
on a lank Crucifixion in an art museum,
its stripe-like ribs testifying to rank.
recorded on the satellite graph
seem arranged into a celestial score,
the music of the spheres,
the Ave Verum Corpus of the observatory lab.
for the first time and an involuntary prayer
escapes our lips; when a shadow crosses
our bodies on an x-ray screen; when we receive
a transfusion of foaming blood
sacrificed anonymously to save life.
spontaneously in awe or anger
as a woman in a birth ward
calls to her long-dead mother.
dining table holds warm bread rolls,
shiny glasses of red wine.
from the orange grove in a tourist village
just as the monastery bell begins to take its toll.
under leaves of Gothic tracery, an arch
of overlapping branches that meet
like hands in Michelangelo’s Creation.
we catch a residual blast of incense,
a perfume on par with the fresh-baked loaf
which Milosz compared to happiness.
comes in Shaker-style and we order
a matching set of Mother Ann Lee chairs.
of astronomers that the visible galaxies
will recede as the universe expands.
its presence felt in the stained glass
window of the fake antique lounge bar.
riding the evening thermals misses its tug.
shoulders outside the cheap hotel
ponder what their next move should be.
for His Second Coming,
like standing in the brick
dome of a dovecote
after the birds have flown.