I remember, years ago, when my mother
would drag me tired-eyed from a warm bed
and ungently stuff me into Sundayís sundry frills.
We walked the two dull blocks to the church,
her modest heels tip-tapping across the concrete.
We knelt on the hard floor, arching our hands
in mimicry of the beam-latticed ceiling.
I would sneak glances, while mock-praying,
to see the stiff edges of Motherís face softened
by the shifting colors from the stained glass,
soothed by the pale pink of Mary's brow
and the white of wing-wrapped hosts.
I was always a little afraid, at those times,
that the smiling crystalline Jesus above us
would smite me down in a rain of holy fire
because I loved her more, kneeling in church,
than at any other place in the entire world--
She no longer looked like herself.