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Monday Meditations

It's Native American Day today where I live, and Indigenous Peoples Day if Biden has his way. This week's poem is from my book, The Book of Crooked Prayer, a poem I offer in remembrance of the victims of boarding schools, mother & baby homes, laundries, industrial schools, "refuges," and other institutions that practiced or perpetuate abuse in the name of God.

HERETIC’S PRAYER

 

I am outside, skirting the sanctuary.

It’s true; I love your dark cocoon, air heavy

with frankincense. I look good in sackcloth.

 

I once swooned at Mary’s alabaster feet, red candle

for each dead friend. But I’m outside now,

kicking gravel in the parking lot.

 

Father Church, middle-aged miser, you  

stockpile tithes, real estate, paintings.

You pass off bleached sheep bones

 

as John’s left thumb or Peter’s anklebone

for cold hard cash, turn a blind eye

(under a gilded miter) from people

 

living on grubs. You turn goodness to sin—

peasant woman’s pennyroyal to witches’

brew, harvest blessing to porn,

 

metaphysics to black magic, red-haired

night-owl Lilith to Adam’s hysterical ex,

even Christ’s own sweetheart to whore.

 

Uncover your ears. I’m wailing out here!

Tell me this is history. Tell me you’ve

dressed it down, wised up, that God’s

 

army isn’t still out there on horseback

hunting down blasphemers, heretics,

Indian kids clinging to their mothers. Say

 

you’ve spread your arms to the faithful women

who’ve cleaned up after you from the beginning.

Tell me your priest wrapped a pregnant, bone-hollow, 

 

HIV-positive Sudanese girl in his velvet robes.

Tell me you’ve uncorked God’s blessing, poured it out 

for gays, divorcees, little boys lured

 

into the sacristy. Tell me your holy curator

bartered your stash of Egyptian relics

for rice and beans. Tell me you’ve gathered in

 

the lost chapters, turned your sacramental wine

to tears, pawned the fisherman’s ring

for blankets, medicine, corrugated tin.

 

Tell me that late last night, baptismal fonts

ran with free milk & honey, altars crumbled,

rose petals rained from the choir loft,

 

Mary broke the rock, charmed the snake, wept.

Tell me that, and I’ll come back inside,

fall down on my knees.