A Reading at First United Methodist
The annex’s an ugly, open space
curved like the hold of a ship
crammed with old mustardy chairs.
Home to church auctions and prayer
breakfasts, the room fills with color
from the stained glass of Christ
and the saints along the west wall.
Family and friends who’d never turn up
here, who’ll soon be an audience,
mingle, graze, drink orange bev
or coffee, dunking animal crackers
only to have the pink frosting skim off.
Patrick–who’s poem is on page 82,
who’ll read in a halting, salted voice
and stop the murmuring dead
like sight of land after months at sea–
laughs and laughs. We settle at a signal.
Introductions and thanks. Cell phones silenced.
Polite applause. And we shove off
into an uncertain sea of words
and the voices that make waves of them.
Patrick rises in a crest and descends
to his seat, followed by others alike
and unlike. We clap our thunder loud
for each. Pitch and yaw. Roll and holler.
Held hostage, shanghaied
away from ghost linoleum and fading hymnals
we are willing deckhands, word-pirates
for a night, leaving the safety of land to sail
out into the deepest ocean.