lover, our religion is a smallish house
where we read the paper
drink our coffee
pick our parsley for the butternut squash
and lay out on the floor the blankets from the wedding
I still feel the dancing, drumming, and wine

julian's an island at the edge of the ocean
in the wood behind the parish church
cooking at the fire
and now the rooms are full
and now they're empty
spinning her tea leaves on by

o mother julian, hear my confession:
my lover and I, we read the times
the foaming wine
the gathering sky and ash and lime
and you and your north sea are slowly rising
and the market drowning
the leaves are turning
the drums are calling
and you go back inside

lover, all our cards are out on the table--
we build a house
but the wind is drumming
the guns are singing
the leaves are murmuring
the sibyl wailing
and the kings and the pages all gyred above our heads
like the room was a teacup
now it's full
now it's empty
now I wake in your soft breathing

julian's an ocean round the navel of an island
I hear her waves in the wind
I hear her break in the window
I can feel her rafters moan with beseeching
the earth-shook ground of it all,
the earth-shook ground in the wind

o mother jesus, come be our pumpkin
come grow our chives
I touch your navel
I curl in your hand
and if I get to heaven I hope it's empty
I hope you and all your angels have gone spelunking
to the house of hell
i hope peter and julian and a million mourners who couldn't eat--
they just couldn't breakfast--
'til all made well

lover, if they come and take us away
to a lonely place
in the bowels of the war I'll still taste your cumin body
and the rooms of our house will ivy over
the crooked fingers of mother jesus
and now the drums
and now the parsley





peter j hochstedler South Bend, Indiana

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