Very cold, like in a forest’s clearing, shadowed by gray
boulders. Very cold, and the pipe organ
an enormous paternal tree, bleeding sap. The eye climbs and crosses
and climbs again to take it in. The stained
glass casts gems onto the stone floor like sunlight
puppeted through insect-bitten leaves.
The hymn heaves like a river ’round a dam, swollen with leafy
voices. Called forth,
three girls rise, shy as fawns.
Models in modest florals and cardigans.
Bare-faced, their copper hair flares like the metallic streams of Nebraska
and Ohio, where mothers fray and fathers hunt
the deer that dip to drink and look up, startled. Sixteen, they curve
forward, self-conscious, taller even than their teachers.
They bend lower to the pastor in his vestments, precious as
St. Francis’s animals, and eat the wafer from his fingers.