Even Thomas knew his Summa
was not enough
to answer the sharp scrape of sin
echoing in the cavern of my chest
keeping me up
every Friday night for a year.

With the next and the next and the next
story of women and children –
and men –
thrust down on their knees
by unholy power,
the smoke from a straw-burning fire
drowns me a little more and a little more.

Over and again and still once more, I lift
my eyes to the naked
man and watch his unmovements
through the flames

just long enough to doubt –
to suspect that this scarcity is all
that will ever respond.

Could this be–is this really all–
this just might be the surrender–
the abandonment
I have been so afraid of.

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