Errand

Through the fourteen stations of the cross
Paul said nothing while groping around
for what was holy about this montage.

The only remaining voice in his head said
You are closer to God than his heart breaking.
I love you
.

The elongation of late afternoon light
colored the garden walkway
with golden hues.

He knew he should be going—
away from other people’s holy space
leaving a ripple of air behind him.

There were so many spirits lingering here
unaware Charon’s pier was not
at the entry to these stations.

The weary sighs of the waiting
tore at him like he was a blessed loaf of bread
on a pedestrian altar.

He sensed this was not a typical day.
The voice behind and below his right ear said
Whistle a happy tune.

As he whistled bird calls he thought
how Pied Piper of Hamelin
to lead the dead away from the churchyard.

They followed him to the stonewall
at the edge of an orchard outside of town.
They rushed over the river of the setting sun’s rays.

Heading home Paul passed the churchyard
and in the dusk saw how much brighter
the stain glass parables shown illuminated from the inside.

As he entered his warm home
he knew he did not understand his madness
or ill-defined beliefs.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Saint Christopher

I remember an old church
carved out of the back of a cave.

I am sure I was not supposed
to discover the practitioners’ secret.

But it rained too violently
when I was bicycling

and serendipity brought me
to the cave entrance.

It was the lingering incense
that emboldened me

past my fear of inclosed spaces
and that the earth desired to swallow me.

After a tight squeeze going upward
a dry gallery opened

with signs of the cross
and a crude alter of cut stone.

A bronze censer with its lid off
contained thick ashen residue.

A silver plate held dried out bread crumbs.
A crystal chalice wore smudged finger prints.

The walls exhibited red pigmented hand prints
and stick-figure stations of the cross.

I left my travelers medallion on the alter
as a sign and offering.

Then I left the sanctuary, the cave,
to re-entered the waning storm.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

postscript

Although I have bicycled over 30k miles in my life and had my progress halted by severe storms on occasion, I have never found a cave to wait out the storm. So this poem is a fancy, a fiction to delight my imagination.