For Lent, the rule was no sweets, and fish
on Fridays; less music on the radio, less TV,
less rowdiness and laughing in general (but one
could giggle behind one’s hands if necessary).
And on Holy Thursday we went to church to see
a row of unshod men seated before the altar,
waiting for the priest to wash and dry and oil
their feet: the plumber, the carpenter, the banker,
the fire chief, the kanto boy, the grandfather.
On Good Friday flagellants paraded down
the streets, vermillion stripes growing across
their backs, rude thorns circling their brows.
And in the evening we visited six or seven
churches, tiers of votive candles keeping vigil.
In the middle of the aisle, statue of the body
crucified, laid prone on a cloth of blood-red
velvet. After all these years, this is what I
remember most: the cold, pale arch of the foot,
the painted-on wound on painted flesh which,
bending, we were meant so reverently to kiss.
In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.