I sometimes wish I could find Cindy
to thank her for agreeing with my fine idea
that we sneak into the university chapel
late one night in 1983 to make love.
I don’t just want to thank her for giving me
the trump card—“house of worship”—
I hold in every stupid party game that begins,
“Where’s the strangest place you’ve ever…?”
No, I want to thank her for the truth of it.
For knowing that the heart is holy even when
our own hearts were so frail and callow.
Truth: it was 1983; we were nineteen years old;
we lay below the altar and preached a quiet sermon
not just on the divinity of skin, but on the grace
of the heart beneath. It was the only homily
we knew, and our souls were beatified.
And if you say sentiment and cliché, then that
is what you say. What I know is what is sacred.
Lord of this other world, let me recall that night.
Let me again hear how our whispered exclamations
near the end seemed like rising hymnal rhythm,
and let me feel how those forgotten words came
from somewhere else and meant something.
Something, if only to the single moth
that, in the darkened air of that chapel,
fluttered its dusty wings around our heads.
Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2008
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.