Saturday, before Mass

by Camilla Jean Welsch

The young black man sat shirtless,
his head resting at the third eye
upon stacked hands.
(But this was not my yoga class.)

Head down at the table in the courtyard,
a microfleece blanket in red,
more or less draped over his shoulders,
heavy and damp from the recent rain,
he looked as if he were sweating out,
in proof,
the alcohol consumed last night, this morning,
and the crack cocaine at noon.

(Or so I imagined.)

The white people were filing out
around the side of the cathedral,
walking quietly past (the back of the unfortunate man),
wearing summer pastels and suit lapels,
and it was not till I reached the front
that I saw the bride and groom
and the wedding party

(the clan).

I averted my eyes from the sticky man
as I passed
and hurried fast,
avoiding everyone,

up the sandstone steps,
in a tidy climb,
and into the tiled, lacquered lobby
where I paused and beheld
the calm,

the hushed,
crush of massive space
and stillness of time.

With three more steps I was in through the doors,

and made my move
with intention now

(but this was not my yoga class)

down the side aisle,
with anxiety, yes,
and made my way to the confessional,
(more or less) stressed.

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