Rituals (Iowa c. 1979)

I see my breath floating the words
“My Dad is taking me to see the Pope.”
An early morning revelation
To my playground friends.

Farmlands of Iowa in the fall
Are resting.
Tucked in with
Curves of hardened upturned soil and
Prongs of withered cornstalks.

Iowans and other pilgrims
emerge from the mist and circulating clouds,
Blankets falling off their shoulders like
Robes of ancient disciples.

Thousands dot the tans and green grasses
Anticipating His arrival.
A deus ex machina from Ancient Rome
Approaching in a modern day helicopter.

On cue, the clouds separate and the sun appears.
Into this unceilinged church
Cheers escape and
Climb and
Slowly evaporate miles above.

Faith on people’s faces cannot be faked.
It shines.
It glows.
We are all lovers of ritual and the game.

My father tears us from this holy moment,
Before the climax of communion.
It is Thursday night and he has another
Ritual and game to attend.

“One bread, One body” is the soundtrack
as we hike through fields.
Yellow gravel roads glow while the
Setting sun turns the sky indigo.

My Dad bowls and in
My warm house I think
“I’ve seen the Pope.”

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