I always think it is beautiful then—
the big arches, the wooden planked ceiling,
the long benches. The place I sing hymns.
My kindergarten teacher stands up in front there
and says with the same conviction
that she names the colors that one day
(we just don’t know which one)
we’ll all rise up out of here, out of our clothes, through the pretty wood ceiling,
up to heaven to be with god.
I always think it is beautiful there.
Until I watch my daddy confess his sins, crying, then dipped clean, still not sure he is whole.
Until I watch mama go kneel before that god
who hasn’t taken me yet, sobbing, surrendered,
broken. The frail old lady behind me
has a perfect silver updo and her voice
sings Soprano. Holy. Holy. Holy is the Lord God Almighty. The man is red faced while he yells
about the ways I should be.
They say it is a sacred space.
I roll out my afghan and light
a dollar store Jesus candle.
When I burn the palo santo
this place is sacred.
When the spot in the center cracks open raw
my grandmother’s grandmother’s great-
grandmother sings with me,
Remember sweet child, remember you’re okay,
and you’re the whole thing.
Everything here is just for you
you made it just for you
When you die you return to
read these words you forgot you wrote
to remind you that you’ve forgotten
and nothing else
They Say It Is a Sacred Space c 2017 Ash Good.