Weekly Photo Challenge: Refuge

One of the beautiful windows in a church in Fall River, MA.

While lost (again) in Fall River, MA, I drove by this massive church and decided to stop in. I wasn’t sure if the doors would be open, but I thought I’d try. The sun was going down and I wanted the catch the evening light in the stained glass windows, which are my favorite things about churches (besides the silence when no one else is there).

Church once was a refuge for me, thus a good topic for this week’s photo challenge word — refuge. Today, it’s only the colors of the church windows capturing late afternoon sun that are still my refuge. Here’s a poem that I wrote several years ago. It was selected for an anthology awhile ago, but it seems that the editors can’t find a publisher. Oh well, it will find a home here …

Offering Up the Collection

The Irish priest had pure white hair,
a black cocker spaniel named Rasputin,
and a glass jar of children’s teeth.

An odd collection amassed from years
of tiny gap-smiled visitors bold enough
to cross the street to his brick-faced rectory.

They offered up wadded handkerchiefs,
cradles for bloodied milk-white kernels
that Father praised and plinked into the maw.

In return, he doled out holy trinkets:
small plastic statues of empty-handed Mary
or Jesus pointing to an painted ruby heart.

A cursory sign of the cross over an open mouth,
and the child raced back to the playground
to prove how brave she’d been to go alone.

When confessional boxes murmured dark secrets
and tongues burned down the priest’s creed,
his collection hummed like a choir of cherubim.

Rasputin died first, then the priest, far away.
His jar was flung into the alley, its bits scattered.
All night the wind sang across drifting snow.

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