Sunday, January 21, 2018

Holy communion

I remember a time,
riding a subway in New York
after visiting a home for unwed mothers
when all the narrow ads they post in that space above the windows of the train
seemed to be selling sex,
or at least using it to sell --
cars, jewelry, clothes, insurance,
everything stank of sex, and I thought --
what choice did those young women have?

And as I stared, there came into my brain
the ancient words of my old red prayerbook --
not Rite II, but Rite I --
"We are not worthy so much
as to gather up the crumbs under thy table,"
and then,
"Christ have mercy upon us,"
and somehow all of it -- the memory,
the ads, the old black woman
with her heavy sack and swollen ankles,
the angry thin young men in their hoodies,
pacing up and down,
the salesman in his shiny suit
with the pants a bit too short,
the young girls cracking gum and giggling --
everything, and everyone I saw
glowed with a kind of connecting light,
as if they all wore evanescent robes,
and sang in some celestial choir,
but then, of course, the iron wheels squealed,
the lights inside the car blinked on and off,
and we shuddered to a stop inside
some grimy white-tiled cave,
and half my choristers left the train,
still shimmering in the aftermath
of that brief Holy Communion.

No comments: