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Sad television stars slip silver dollars into the offering plates
At the end of the wooden pews
And lumber toward seats among mannequins, Mayakovski, and me.
Brown and plastic,
Side by side,
Awaiting a sermon.
“You dream you’re sitting
In a church among dummies,”
Freud reflects from the next pew.
“With a poet!” I resist, lucidly.
But, of course, the dummies burst into song
Their voices and the heat intensify
With the tart smell of tan plastic burning.
Ashes float as it strikes me as odd
That this is the first time
That I have ever considered this place
There is no fire alarm,
No howling, piercing shriek in the yellow blaze,
No sporadic, spasming flashes
To warn the innocent and their guilty goats.
“What about the fun we had?”
My curly-haired Sunday school teacher asks,
Brushing blackening embers from the burns in her dress.
I’m definitely not thinking of Holy War or female circumcision.
And I’m definitely not telling her.
I’m not praying for an omnipotent deity
To vanquish sweaty, leather-clad Amalekites
And pile them among the splayed flesh
Of all my other scowling enemies.
My brother-in-law holds a prayer book open across his face
In the swelling smoke,
Looking almost enviably drunk,
As pillars collapse
On teams of other well-dressed worshipers
Unmoved and unmoving.
I seem to be the only one
Whose dry throat can’t swallow
The parched air of panicked disappointment
In these fiery mistakes of the past.
–For Orli Auslander
Photo Credit: Best and Worst Ever under (CC BY 2.5) via Blogspot