Ivory Women and Damned Men This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

December 15, 2017
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Rosemary perfume drenched our chestnut pews
every Sunday sermon at seven.
Every Sunday sermon at seven,
pastel hats and delicate frenchtips would
softly knot rosaries, as not to
awaken the King’s ancient crucifixes.
I watch these porcelain mothers – their
obsidian button eyes following the stream
of bleached robes and pale fathers.
“Amen.” Escaping their tight cherry lips,
not daring to question the cleric with
fingers crossed behind his back at prayer.
Even now, when the baptismal water, turned
as black as sin and as warm as Inferno by the minister’s touch,
erupted over marble basins to swirl and swell
over chalk ankles neatly tucked into Easter flats,
inaudible was the protest from the domestic wives.
I watch these beautiful statues – they rise and kneel
into the dark pool of iniquity, bending head and folding hands
to the patriarched altar, sweetly humming hymns to drown out
the ferocious sound of the tides rising.

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