Mass in the Consolación
This is not a normal church.
The lady in front of me opens her blouse
and offers her breast to her youngest child
who sucks there, noisily, greedily.
The old man behind me
holds a roll your own smoke
in the palm of his hand
and closes his eyes in ecstasy
as he draws in the marijuana,
holding it between tongue and teeth.
Three dogs, tongues lolling, discover
the bitch in heat who came here for sanctuary.
They chase her up and down the aisle
as the high priest doggedly murmurs
the blessings that uplift faithful hearts.
I have heard these words before.
Bored acolytes pass the anointing oil,
present the sacred wine.
Flowers and candles adorn the altar.
When the old man kneels for communion,
night breath lies whisky thick
on the high priest’s tongue.
I drowse during the sermon:
sacred words, secret worlds
open like oysters;
a laying on of hands;
footsteps leading nowhere .
that hard, crisp sound,
white and sharp,
like the inside of an apple
when strong teeth
penetrate the outer skin.
Candle flames caress the unwary,
bringing an artificial peace.
Yellow light marches across the altar.
The room warms up with song.
Wide open staring eyes.
That young man
nailed to his wooden frame,
calling me by my name.