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Little Church
Anne Marie Macari (JDP Winner for 2005)

On Good Friday you call from across country
to describe crosses pushed

in wheelbarrows, penitents with mouths full of rocks.

Donít pray for me, is all I can think, my old faith
crawling sideways over

the dry earth, changing shapes, refusing the vinegar,
the sad sponge. Iím trying not

to plan ahead for loveís daily resurrectionsólove born, slain,

reborn in the rumpled bed. When are you coming home?

You canít know how a woman wants, canít know
how forgiving her breasts

feel when finally found under their wrappings

as if theyíd been waiting to be touched but didnít know it,
or how the muscular hand

of the vagina keeps calling, enter, enter, no matter
how long it takes you

to hear, how it then
lets go, cupping

the spittle and milk. Some days my belief is
a pale thing, like when

the blue afterbirth of love hangs
so heavy, the mouth of love
limp and open with weariness. The flesh knows
this one thing, it practices
for its own demise as when

giving birth, in and out of pain, a voice said, This
is what itís like to die.

As for the scolding bells,

I try not to listen, Iíd rather feel my breath
rising toward you, so distant

from me, seeking the stray hairs at the nape
of your neck.

what horror would it take for me to go back
to the old words, to kneel againó

instead I lean into my pillow, my legs
slightly open, waiting

for when we meet skin to skin, having
to decide who I am

now that my gods have fallen away. Sometimes
only touch can help me

when Iím released with a cry

and returned to my loneliness. See how
the bed is a little church where

we have given up and taken back, spoken
in tongues, worshipped

and worshipped, then lapsed each night,

into oblivion.