Tuesday Poem

Once in Twelve Years, I Go to Church

I go to the church with the cross in it
and I kneel, because it hurts too much to sit,
and I pray, wordlessly. I go when it’s quiet,
when service is over, ideally when no one
is there. But someone is always there.

I don’t mean the priest. I don’t mean Jesus
or some deity who looks down on us.
God does not look down on us.
God does not exist, and yet God is
all there is. I mean I look at these walls,

mammoth two-foot by four-foot
blocks of limestone that could crush us,
beautifully. And I recall that limestone
is composed entirely of skeletal fragments,
of organisms caught in their less-than-final

resting places. And I hear in the stone
a rustling, the rustling of creatures
who once crept and bled upon the Earth,
like you and me. Creatures still here,
still whispering in our ears, still embodied

and participating in the language of the world.
What I hear is: that word—upon—is wrong.
We say upon as if the Earth were merely
lithosphere—the ground beneath—
and not the atmosphere, the Ecosphere:

not the sky and why above, not the blood
and good within. We say upon as if
the Earth and men were not each other,
and the lesser was merely a visitor
upon the greater’s soils. We say upon

but mean as one, we mean the Earth
that rose up and lived as us, as she lives
the creatures who whisper in these walls,
and as she lives the little poet
turning to limestone in this poem.

by Ricky Ray
the Echotheo Review