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!”