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The creaking of the oak floors,
The old incense smell woven into every alter cloth and robe,
The symmetric rows of pews, exactly fifteen on either side;
These are the constant, unchanging things Father Henry could rely on.
He could not rely on the money that came in from the collections
Used to pay for the increased costs of heat and electricity.
He could not rely on the parishioners
To come in every week
To be truthful with their penance,
To pray for their sins, the ones they try to ignore,
The ones that fester behind their teeth
Like beetles frenzied in a net.
The longer a sin is forced into the back of your mind,
The harder it is to keep from clawing its way out.
These sins making sleep an impossible chore,
The way your stomach sinks with every thought of it
This Father Henry knew of all too well---
He encloses himself in his wooden box
Waiting for the next victim to find comfort
In rambling their sins in a terrified, seeking forgiveness sort of way,
Trying to, what, have the priest say that your wrong-doings are okay?
So that you can mutter a silly singsong prayer
Giving the pleasure of smearing ointment
To soothe the hellish itch their ragged, stub nails cannot scratch.
Henry takes a moment, calms himself, and fingers the rosary in his hand.
He closes his eyes and sees white.
White lace, white silk, white diamonds, white roses,
White veils, white high heels clacking down his isle.
Marrying off these young, fresh girls, one by one
Only staring into the eyes of her beloved
Taking no notice at the holy man sizing her up and down.
The urge for him to reach out and touch her,
Have her wipe her pink lipstick onto his lips.
Every wedding creates this fire in his heart, under his robes,
One that no bible or furious night sweat can quench.
Is it so wrong to want to be with these pure, naive girls?
There’s no question that he’s tried to control himself,
But you cannot tame the mind of a man
Whose only other companion is the dark shadow
Luring this lusty, dangerous side out.
*Knock* *knock* *knock*
"Come in my son."
And here is another idiot, ready for Father Henry
To relinquish him of his sins, when in fact,
He has major issues to sort out himself.