Week 22: Every Picture Tells a Story

This morning’s spin song that’s still sitting in my head is Rod Stewart’s Every Picture Tells a Story. It’s always so hard to get going in the morning, but it’s great exercise and doesn’t take much coordination or much thought (both good for me). Once you get on the bike, you’re on automatic pilot — you can even close your eyes.

The song reminds me that there are lots of pictures inside my head, and lots of stories. This week I learned that another poem has found a home (if it ever gets finished). It was selected for an anthology of poems about collections. I’m going to include the poem here now because there are no worries about the poem “being published” and because I’ve waited for almost two years to hear from them about publication.

So here’s the picture that tells the story: an old priest opens the door to his rectory after a little girl in a school uniform knocks on the door.

How differently might the picture be interpreted today …

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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