Pride Before by John Grey


“That’s my boy,” Emma whispered
to the woman beside her in the pew.
David stood at the altar,
next to his red-nosed namesake, Father David,
itching in his wool cassock,
sweat stains on his white lace surplice,
incense up his nose,
Latin on his tongue,
doing as best he could
to stop from reeling forward.

When her little altar boy
took pride of place beside Father David,
holding the shiny paten
for that blessed man in his linen and silk vestments,
it was a cue for her heart to beat so quick, so loudly,
she could imagine it was her soul throbbing.

This was before his grades started slipping,
he turned his back on the church
and started hanging with the wrong crowd.
And certainly before he started looking
more and more like his father.
Before her reason for living was all up to her.

©2020 John Grey


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John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Transcend, Dalhousie Review and Qwerty with work upcoming in Blueline, Hawaii Pacific Review and Clade Song.


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