What Rough Beast | Poem for November 19, 2017

Mary Ann Honaker

a place of refuge or protection: esp.,
a reservation where animals or birds
cannot be hunted or molested

is where the congregants josh
the preacher during his opening remarks,
and everyone has a good belly laugh

where the organist after hymns
waves her hand dismissively aw shucks
you shouldn’t have at our applause

where you can speak up about your sick
sister, nephew, mother-in-law, where
everyone will listen, hmmming sadly,

and write down the exact spelling
of that person’s name, so God will know
who they mean when they daily pray

where everyone goes down the narrow steps
to the basement rec room once a month
to eat together a raucous potluck,

the old men telling hunting stories,
the old women bragging on grandbabies,
the children cleaning off the cookie tray

where blood and screams and horror
where an entire family leaves the good earth
at once, all together in their pews

When we arrive home that morning,
my mom, stepping out of her dress flats
says, I expected something like this

During the service I always look
back at the door, I check several times
in case someone is coming in


Mary Ann Honaker is the author of It Will Happen Like This (YesNo Press, 2015). Her poems have appeared in 2 Bridges, The Dudley Review, Euphony, Juked, Off the Coast, Van Gogh’s Ear, The Lake, and elsewhere. Honaker holds a BA in philosophy from West Virginia University, a master of theological studies degree from Harvard Divinity School, and an MFA in creative writing from Lesley University. She currently lives in Beaver, West Virginia.

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