A Little Faith in the Moment
A sultry mid-summer evening And the clammy village is an unwarranted hug All honeysuckle smells and foliage Sticky pine needles and fervent deciduous shade Cottages crowd into the main single carriage road As if wanting to know all the gossip The steep valley sides seem to funnel the heat Ever-present mounds of arable greenery Low sun throwing long shadows on the flanks of the grazing sheep How on earth did I end up here I'd been to the pub But the pub was a disappointment I'd had a warm lager But the bare brick furnishings And low hanging ceilings had made me feel even hotter And I'd hit my head on a copper-bottomed pan That had been hanging from the rafter There was laughter I'd never felt dafter But I didn't want to go back to my rented cottage just yet I had a desk of half-completed work waiting for me And it was too too hot Come in for a bit of a pray have we The vicar asked. I'd been lingering in the porch of the village church Stone brick solid A stunted tower A modest graveyard of slanting headstones I caught a glimpse of pews Not really Not a believer To be honest No Me neither He had a long beard And a strange expression on his face As if the top part of his face was profoundly disappointed That the bottom half of his face half-grown a beard Really Come in he said It's cooler in here Take a pew He laughed His moustache was stained brown by nicotine I entered the church and found a certain coolness envelope me A flagstone floor lead to a simple alter While the low evening sun Threw stained glass colour across the aisle How are you a vicar If you don't believe I asked Nobody checks on these things he replied Don't the audience suspect anything Congregation my son That's what they call them in the biz They may have their suspicions But they've not said anything He was tall and thin And he moved like a crow There was a pile of hymn books on a side table The air was infused with the smells of mothballs and summer fruits Furniture polish and the merest hint of whisky The vicar picked up a feather duster And fluffed it over the window-sill It's not like the congregation is very large he continued Six at the most I do funerals mostly There weren't any weddings at all last year And I have christened anyone in such a long time The font is now where the wifi transmitter is kept I use it to go on Wikipedia It's a font of all knowledge He laughed again A series of slow haunting huffs Ha ha ha ha Sorry Just some vicar humour Did you ever believe I mean Do you have a faith and did you Then stop He sits on a pew and dangles the feather duster between his legs Kind of sways it back and forth I had a total failure of faith when I was a teenager I was on a bouncy castle at the time The sun shone through the trees And I wanted to bounce higher And higher and touch the air I wanted to stroke the face of God he said Almost triumphantly But then he lowered his voice I thought If I were a god I'd not want some snotty-nosed teenager touching my face And spreading his germs Of course God would have made the germs too He would have loved those germs And the air It was all atmosphere Pure science We can bounce as much as we like But the sky will always be out of reach So it was nothing to do with human suffering And unjust luck I asked No Bouncy castles Then why did you want to become a vicar He waved a nicotine-stained forefinger in my face The uniform he replied Warm in the winter Cool in the summer And I tell you It's more practical than it looks That and the chance to spend time in beautiful buildings such as this He squinted at me You've got a bruise Have you been to the pub Yes I said I've been meaning to tell them about that copper-bottomed pan for years The shadows begin to lengthen And all of a sudden A shard of sunlight illuminated the tip of the bronze cross on the alter As if afire with a sudden majesty Ethereal and life-affirming Let's go home he said My soaps will be on I turned to the alter And watched flecks of dust curl in the air Moving on unseen currents I turned back to the vicar No trace of him He'd gone What on earth It was as if a spectre had made himself apparent only by his leaving As if common sense had mutated Spun on a golden moment into the sublime A supernatural hand reached out And plucked out a miracle from the ether And my heart began to race Sorry he said As his head popped up from between the pews I was picking up a sweet wrapper
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