Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Together In The Moment

Together In The Moment

In the stark sanctuary of a Baptist church
in a back row, far from the grouted tiles
and grated drain of the baptismal pool I first

practiced the seventh element of the noble
eightfold path to Buddhist enlightenment,
mindful of the moment, aware of the pinched

expressions on the faces of the foxes that
tipped the ends of the stole draped around
the shoulders of the woman in front of me,

a look of sour disapproval that, in my
heightened state, I could detect on the
faces of more than a few in the choir loft

perched high above the congregation
arrayed in ranks of short grained wooden
pews that concealed a surprising number

of discarded lumps of gum, hardened Braille
my fingers read without comprehension. 
Perhaps the Beechnut Rosetta Stone stood

hidden among the hymnals in the neat racks
at knee level where I stashed that week’s church
bulletin after I had finished the disciple word

search and mentally checked the figures of last
weeks receipts against the week before that,
rounding up in a spirit of New Testament generosity. 

Watching my breath was easier said than done
as everyone around me, one by one, picked up the
rhythm and the melody of the hymn in progress and

I would catch myself watching you, trying to isolate
your voice, determine whether you were really
singing or practicing your own version of mindfulness,

a breach in discipline that no doubt accounts
for the association I came to make with you
and the hymn I Come To The Garden Alone,

a favorite of mine if only for the memory of the
sound of your voice half humming the tune in
our living room, absent a beginning or end and

most of the words save for while the dew is still
on the roses and the voice I hear as I tarry there,
delivered in your peculiar grainy tenor.  Maybe

this helps explain why I requested that hymn be
sung at the church before we left for the short,
perfunctory memorial at Bushnell and my sudden

rage when, instead, they played a hopped up 
recorded version on a dirty cassette ejected at the 
last minute from the tape deck of the music directors

Bonneville, a feeling incompatible with mindfulness,
a roiling muddy river that swirled around us, waist
deep, baptized, drenched to the bone. 

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