02 October 2010

Communion

A lifetime of keeping still
Sculpts your tongue
In dentine grooves
--no matter the urgings
From within, from
Without to gush forth:
Say
Something.
But your mouth has been
A cave of silence,
Or rather a grotto hushed
Beneath deeper voices
Young demanding tones,
Old proscriptive tolls.
You only open up at all
Sunday morning and even then
Not speak—to put air
To the time-grooved tongue—
Except a breathy, air-filled
Amen.

[this poem comes from my being a very young altar boy way back when we had to hold the paten under the chins of communicants as the priest placed the eucharist on the tongues of very old people, usually women, usually at 7:30 weekday masses.]

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