catholic poetry room

This week’s poem in the Catholic Poetry Room is by Greg Rappleye.                                                                                                   

The Adoration

You walk to the Star-of-the-Sea Church
one Saturday morning that fall, a buttery moon
melting over Polly’s and leaves rustling at your feet,
so that, for two hours, you might be sole witness
at the Adoration of the Eucharist—a spotless host,
a candle-lit monstrance and the dark of a nave
still with last night’s incense; a redolence
in the morning air, where you are not alone, after all.
You saw Mrs. Mejia come in by the alley door
and hear Mrs. Demay, Chairwoman of the Mary Circle,
fussing below the stained-glass of Christ
calling his sailors to heaven. You are first altar boy
and must kneel without yawning; stay awake
with aching knees and stiff back until the Ruffing twins
show up to serve mass, by which time Mrs. Mejia
will have vanished, and Mrs. Demay will have said
a last prayer for her son Kevin, already a lance corporal
in Vietnam, but not before Coach Mullins,
rosary in hand, begins a novena for his wife
Suzanne, who has what the women whisper about
and will be gone next July. Soon enough you will rise,
remove the vestments of an altar boy, the surplice
and cassock, hang them in a dingy gray locker
and after a nod from Monsignor Hardy—his cough,
his lonely throat-clearing, booming across the dark—
walk home kicking at maple leaves and past
the Protestant cemetery with its iron fence and tall statues
of the Civil War dead, thinking of Esther Romero, the prettiest girl
in sixth grade, let yourself in by the side door and pour a bowl
of Cheerios, splash it with milk, and sit out on the back steps
for half-an-hour or-so, watching God gather up the miraculous
light from the stubble field beyond the battering furnaces
of Lefere Drop Forge, and press it all across the sky.

Greg Rappleye’s second collection of poems, A Path Between Houses (University of Wisconsin Press, 2000) won the Brittingham Prize in Poetry. His third collection, Figured Dark (University of Arkansas Press, 2007) was co-winner of the Arkansas Prize and was published in the Miller Williams Poetry Series. His fourth collection, Tropical Landscape with Ten Hummingbirds, was published in the fall of 2018 by Dos Madres Press. He teaches in the English Department at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. Recent work has appeared in America: The Jesuit Review and is forthcoming in Presence: A Journal of Catholic Poetry.

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