Were I a priest I’d lay you open
like a rite and stretch you out across
church conversation. I would translate
every limb of you from my mother tongue
to Latin, Greek, Greek orthodox. I’d mouth
your arms as I would Sunday saints in sermon;
sword and three-pronged spear to frighten
newer converts and the little criminals.
My lips would linger
on your mouth in word only, but with such
words devout parishioner has yet to hear. My
tongue would curve and turn at talking of the
coil and curvature and kindness of your tongue.
Were I a cardinal, a pope, a bishop used as pawn
I’d do you as a final prayer, then tucking you
beneath my arm be gone from church and
catechism contradiction and the dawn.
Comes now the taking of the wine and wafers.
Whose blood and body is it?
I leave the altar cowardly as week-old custard
crusty and with perspiration round my edges.
The choir goes crazy
chanting penance, penance.
If death is sentence
the memory of you lying gently in my head
would still be sentence pronounced but not
said well enough.
Rod McKuen, “Rehearsal For A Sonnet On Your Body”