Our calls pierce her slumber; her lullaby mouth
moves over us as if our bodies  

somehow become translucent in stillness.   

We find kneeling less intrusive than standing,
slip nickels into the offering box.   

As a child, I remember looking for
her at night, under my bed,  

in the strange tongue of prayer. 

Now, I feel her at my back, under
the pews, inside the walls,  

in this red votive cup with the flames
for our dead, inside my Mother's palms,  

her hands filled with grief.   

Her body leans against mine for a moment,
eyes closed, fingers wrapped in  

the unforgiving thickness of shadow.     

In the stained glass, this angel
is a carnival of light, her hands  

press toward the ceiling with the trumpets
that reach out to spear the thunderheads.






by Richard Stephens