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As One Crying Out in the Wilderness

Jill Alexander Essbaum

It was a voice I thought I heard.
I swore to make straight the way of the Lord
and the altar gave a little quiver.
I licked the cup of wine as if it were a lover’s
lip, while the angled face of an acolyte
bent into a genuflecting scowl.  That night,
the transept swayed and flailed
like the grown, pale
arms of a woman waving goodbye.
I was drunk and high,
though neither were enough to soothe
me into sleep.  My tooth
hurt like fair warning. 
My face was raped redly, burning
as a book might, were it a sign. 
All the eve long, I pried
at my shut soul with the lock pick of a prayer.
God, fretted I, if you are there,
then you must now answer,
one way or another.
But only the candle blinked.
So I took another drink.

Jill Alexander Essbaum

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