Play
Next door the old pipe organ no longer wheezes.
Here, the new one’s electric and hums.
Here, too, upholstered pews, a last-twice-as-long-as-Jesus
miracle fabric called Herculon over foam the bums

of bums will appreciate. And me, sixteen,
sneaking out, faking a coughing spell
and bound for the old church next door, alone,
but only for a while, I hope. The girl

I’m meeting there is named Babette, known as Butch.
Every Sunday for a month we’ve met there,
in the choir loft. She’ll undress and let me watch,
and then we’ll desanctify the place—the pews, the air,

the ashtray a former organist abandoned.
Afterward I’ll light my Kool with hers.
The stained glass window will be shot with sun
this morning and give our skins a special shimmer.

I almost believe I made this happen by praying,
every Sunday for a year, alone and morose,
coming here and staying
until the doxology. Butch is pretty without her clothes.

If it is God from whom all blessings flow,
then what I’ve learned in the choir loft is faith.
Yes, she’s there, and already naked by the time I show.
Holy, holy, holy, with her angelic mouth, she sayeth.

Robert Wrigley has published eight collections of poetry, the most recent of which is Beautiful Country (Penguin, 2010). His poems have appeared in many journals, including Poetry, The Atlantic, Barrow Street, and The New Yorker, and were included in the 2003 and 2006 editions of Best American Poetry. Wrigley’s honors and awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Idaho State Commission on the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation, as well as the J. Howard and Barbara M.J. Wood Prize, the Frederick Bock Prize from Poetry magazine, the Wagner Award from the Poetry Society of America, the Theodore Roethke Award from Poetry Northwest, and six Pushcart Prizes. From 1987 until 1988 he served as the state of Idaho’s writer-in-residence.

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