THE RETIRED PASTOR PREACHES A HOMILY ON LOVE
On the night her master darkened and died, the Volga slave girl, carrying a torch, visited the tents of all his friends to repay any favors he might have owed, to give them his love. Next morning as night was extinguished by river and tree she was strangled by his mother, her body placed on the pyre beneath his. As the awakening flames licked and ate them, altering the expression on their faces, the position of their limbs, they danced to rhythms of chemistry and wind. No one who saw their souls ascend, light as smoke and ash, to drift toward heaven ever again miscalculated the gravity of clothing, flesh and bone, flame’s pure and sure salvation, eternity’s duration, the heat and height of love.
APOLOGIA PRO VITA SUA: THE RETIRED PASTOR EXPLAINS HIMSELF
I can’t pass a church without going in because, kneeling in the midst of loving strangers and their scents, the words all come back, and in spite of my ancient tongue they let me sing along as men make God and sacrifice, every meal the last. I love the High Mass lights and chants because parts of me grow stiff in cold, because I owe my soul to the measured rite of grape and grain, because once I saw my parents do it. Raised to go with angels or snakes, each bed I try shivers with the rhythm of light, perfect limbs or a cold restless slithering, each night brightening to life only for love, every dawn the first.