It is Epiphany – a day of meetings and surprises.
Narrow winter sun pierces lancets,
projecting miracles on whitewash – the walls
just begging for some risen light. The magi moving,

fluid over plaster, bringing gifts to lands
where winter nips unfeeling fingers.
The 4 gas heaters make a brave quartet
But the air is coffin cold, uncaring –

breath clouds, lightens and is quickly gone.
Rejoice. You’re here for what can really bring us
to our knees – the need for death, the hope for life,
the cause of love – and to share a silence that reflects

on wishes, that can condense in actions all our days.
True, Church is more than gravity and graves,
so now we’re older, becomes the everything
we were, gives back the people we’ve become.

But keep away those O.T. resurrected texts
where ministries of learning are grained
like wood into our cells. This stuff goes back
into its own mistakes and never can be changed.

And no amount of transubstantial talk
can match the truth of Christ’s own forsaken cry
up on his cross – “Why have You gone?”
he asks. “Thank God,” it’s tempting to reply,

for it’s that sudden, brilliant lack of faith
that keeps me curious, and here. That pain, torture
and despair that makes a suicide like his a crime
of love to solve as urgent as any on TV.

So souls or cells? How close they sound.
We move eternal into light – science burns
forever, triumphant genome of the stars –
so keep the faith. As Larkin said, it’s going on.

3 thoughts on “Congregational

  1. There are some poems that, on first reading, you know you will return to again and again. This is one of them. It’s so rich: in its visual imagery, its metaphor, its puns and its impassioned, relentless, thought-provoking and moving exploration of such profound ideas and feelings – ideas that have informed European culture for centuries and feelings that are universal. Thank you.


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