Needles and Thread

Needles and Thread

I don’t know his name, the young and handsome priest,

but for years I have watched him

nod to the soft-faced girl

who manages the alteration shop.

 

She, at five till eight, makes her way

a little closer to the window,

fixes her hair and her posture,

picks up her needle and thread.

 

He, glancing in as he walks

from Orchard Avenue to Meridian Street

toward Our Lady Church of God,

his bible tight beneath his arm.

 

Across the street, beyond the broken sidewalk,

I watch them through my stained glass window

feeling a little like God—

a little more like the devil.

 

Part of me wants to do a good deed,

deliver him from temptation

and tell him a shortcut to the church—

left on Vine Street, down the alley behind the butcher shop.

 

But I’d rather look up one morning

through the smooth and colored glass

to find him beating on her door with one hand,

waving a copy of McCullough’s “Thorn Birds” in the other.

 

I want to see all that humility, strength and resolve

break down into something recklessly human.

I want her to unlock her door.

I want her to let him in early.

 

I want to see her calm hands

rise to soothe his tortured brow.

I want to see the expression a face makes when years

of anticipation dissolve with a tender, longed-for touch.

 

So if her shop was vacant tomorrow,

if the closed sign was never turned to open—

if there were people lined up with pants and dresses

whispering and peering into the large dark windows

 

and if by eight o’clock the priest hadn’t passed,

crushing the autumn leaves beneath his polished black shoes

on his way to pray for the sins of others,

then I’d know it wasn’t sickness or coincidence,

 

but that they’d both found something like heaven

existing on an escapable street,

something so beautiful

it had to be imagined.

 

So I hope he’ll forgive me, the young and handsome priest,

if I give in to my temptation

to throw open my door, step into the scene—

“Go home!”  I want to yell. “Rip out some seams!”

 

 

 

DeMaris Gaunt

2009

 

 

 

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