Then there were two by Mark Fiddes
The blotchy neck belongs to Father O’xxxxx.
I slip the amice over his snow raked pate.
Through the vestry windows
Epiphany’s light is so brittle it might break
in both hands or dissolve in gold on the tongue.
He bends still lower for the alb.
The smell of man, not of priest.
Old Spice with notes of liver and rectory dust.
He crosses the stole himself, tightens the cinsure,
opening his great white wings for the chasuble,
woven the ceaseless green of a boy’s last summer.
He blesses me and makes the sign of the cross
before taking a key to the safe in the wall
which guards the sacraments:
a pack of Vatican wafers, a bottle of Tio Pepe,
a chalice knuckled with cold silver.
From centuries past, a cork squeaks.
He glugs a taster of the blood
Just to check Our Lord is still with us he explains.
I too sense the other male presence in the room.
The priest sits in the chair with a cruciform back
as I recite the lesser saints he set for homework.
Frumentius Endellion Servatius
Ansanus Castulus Cunibert
Felicula Gummarus Pudens
To spur my memory, I associate each name
with a different part of the vulva
I found steel engraved in a Gray’s Anatomy,
scruffy haired and choir mouthed
as if singing a canticle to Jesus at Christmas.
I believe this must be sinful because there is no
Saint Clitoris or Saint Labia of Carthage.
Already I know better than to ask.
The church has a saint for everything except altar boys,
he reads me with a smirk and another holy swig
which leaves just the two of us
as faith melts like slush in a gutter
and bells peal for the Sacred Feast of the Baptism.