243. The Service

It was a lovely hat.
Where had she got it?
The brim, so blue and wide,
Dipped in a curve
That hid her eyes.
A white band tied in ribbon
At the back.

Riah stood up.
Thomas grasped her hand,
And pulled her down–
“What the Sam Hill,
What the Hell?”–a whisper
Next three pews could hear.

Preacher entered, as
The room came to its feet.
The readings, and the hymns,
The Bible verses….It was
Mostly all familiar, Riah thought.
Our service is the same.
But we don’t church.
And here they push their heads
Plumb under water–
Preacher holds them under….
Her skin crawled.
But they might skip
The churching, after all.
Could be they’ve
Changed their minds.

The blue hat seemed quite steady.
It rose to sing, and sat
When others did. But
The hair was much too frizzy
On one side, Riah’d
Noticed, and below
The ribbon–all she
Really saw–hung
Limp and flat.

With each hymn, each
Scripture verse, they
Neared the end.
More than halfway
Through the service,
No sign yet.
A miracle might happen:
This was church.
They had forgot Louise.

“Brothers. Sisters.
Ladies, gentlemen.
My sermon is a short one.
We have business.”

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