(The Going-Steady Ritual At Drew University)
by John Delonas
Between the solemn pillars decked
With garlands of Spring’s rise,
The procession slowly winds;
The pearl-clad priest waving soft
His arms; the Presence swaying
In the moved bowl of life,
On its dainty canopied pins,
So no sun may see the monstrance,
Less he that lifts it is appointed to.
The opposing censors swinging,
Splashing glad the chant of life;
Who could bear such heady fumes
If he lifted the coverlet?
Some things are best mysteries,
Half-glimpsed, half-hinted, half-aware.
Up the steps: left, roll-right,
Left-delight, the swelling fruits rise
To a god pinned half-aware
The majesty of the slinking sacrifice.
Lift the bowl: out-per-fume— OUT
Chink-chains– CHINK, chat-lane-slink,
Cincturing the green coverlet,
Vestments ill-suiting such rhythm
Though blessed in preferred tints of hope.
Slow tonsured acolytes,
Their bulging albs and starved eyes
Do crowd too much the tender lamb,
Which one-half the world desires,
And the other half, despising, half-apes.
Slow clumsy altar boys go
With their shaky unfleshed hands,
Ill-holding dripping candles,
Flick’ring half-out from the dark nave,
Cassocks jigging as they come,
Holding out wet sparks to the
Stiff chasuable swinging
Unmindful, and sure, but so vulnerable
To heresy from the side and below;
Protestant me! To despoil
I must follow and genuflect
My ready taper with the rest.
It ends! The radiant lamb
Nailed in the tomb with her god;
The priest kneels, rises, pins the lock,
Hymns fade into the shadowed chanc’ry,
Footfalls retreat with the ebbing light;
The procession gone, sticky tallow,
Thumbed prayer cards, their ethereal
Animal breath– this is all that’ s left.
No! — a frank sense of her
Hitting me and passing like beads,
Jarring the praying, plying fingers;
She belongs to god, pinned
To the cross of seven aves,
Again and again forever;
Would I like some Dutch iconoclast,
Do in his revered sacre coeur,
And make a laughing Luther’s nun
Of this meat offered to pigs
Obedient of Lent.