There and Here

A year ago, there,
The sanctuary hallowed and barren.
Ash Wednesday, ‘Repent and die.’
The sackcloth and the ashes.
Nothing but dust.

A year ago, here,
A refuge of another kind.
Valentine’s Day, love and sex.
The drunk old man next to me
Told me everything.

The woman onstage —
Tall and shy and awkward.
Her voice soft and fragile as she strummed.
The ankle dress and red hair,
And the curve of her wide hips.

Later, still talking,
The drunk man next to me
Told me of the women he had known.
‘What do you do?’ he asked.
And then he laughed.

I saw him then
In the backroom doing his routine —
His skin black and with the beauty of youth.
He was smart, funny, bold.
And I liked him.

beauty — strange and broken, original and true.
There was no cross here.
No humanity groaning under the weight of glory.
Just spirit and flesh — finite and exposed,
And so brave.

Leaning against the wall,
I drank my beer.
And I cried.

A year later, here, again.
beauty remains, even if a little less
Vulnerable, queer, handsome.
And on the cross — all cut and bloodied and beaten —
Beauty Incarnate.

 

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