i will not go into that church, i told myself,
i cannot be there, it is forbidden.
what can i say of this place? i was downtown
between six and seven, dusk, the spring sun condescending
in glory to kiss the rotting hulk of the heironimus building
good night, thinking how
here in these streets, church and luck and jefferson, some
dragon ravens; serpents behind old retaining walls
in wasena, the deaf adder that stoppeth her ears,
charm he never so
it is like picking up a clod of soil by the river
and recognizing your own blood in between the little
clamshells, thinking with a thrilling kind of horror,
“but i have not been dead here”; so i thought.
i will not go into that church,
i told myself; i must wait until the morning; i must go
to another neighborhood and leave it be,
i told myself; it will be better to go back to the motel
in salem and nurse the pain of the last two weeks
of this waking hell; i must not go.
i told myself i will only walk there; i will not enter;
i will lose my nerve and flee at the first sign
of danger; i was about to vomit. the egyptian
dusk soft and warmly cotton
found me in horror and my heart almost leapt
out of me once i found my pew; i wondered
whether i wasn’t satan after all; this business of
panicking in churches.
but i did not leave and my heart began to level at the
exsultet. and by the end of two hours
i was water on the floor; i was deconstructed and entirely
outside whatever i was, united with the
fiery auspices smeared before mill mountain, asleep in the
flesh of surrender like one who
fainted in the heat of the flight
and awoke in warm sinai
forgetful of the charioteers in perdition;
forgetful of being a charioteer,
forgetful of everything but what made me:
just a child on his first day of school.
there is nothing to be afraid of, in the end;
all our nighttimes, after all, were borne
a long time ago
and on this very night.