The congregation sways, claps. The choir’s robes
shimmer, golden waves of grace. Dazzling. Angkor Wat
at high noon. And I’ve imagined such a moment
my entire life. What it would be like to swim with this tide,
to take part in its monumental flow. Twenty thousand
leagues away from my norm, from my terra form
as a jutting jetty. A lonely niplet of loam gasping for air
beneath an avalanche of sea foam. And I lose track
of my heartbeat. Become splendidly enslaved by
the throng’s thrum. Why would anyone ever fledge
this pulsing nest?
When my quill is forced to shed I am stunned. Culled
for cause, they say. Defective follicle. My vulture feather’s
too rife with heathen cracks. It won’t scratch or strum
for God, they say. And I shiver from the flock’s
rebuke, plead for mercy. But their ecstasy moves on.
So I return to myself again. Black swan. No, black ice.
The unwelcome cube. Like the coffin up front, inert
emotion in a creped box. Yes, I am my poet-self again,
window-washing brigand peering through grief’s murky
pane. A shameless thief stealing the crowd’s ache. This
perverted quest the only one left to me now. To become
the Obi-Wan of sorrow. My charred soul most at home
alone, in the serene silken sulk of loss unscrolled.
Maureen Kingston is an assistant editor at The Centrifugal Eye. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Gargoyle, Stone Highway Review and Terrain.org. A few her recent prose pieces have been nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart awards.