In Perpetuum

Squint through iron grilles, past
empty pews to where, before the altar 

two nuns prostrate themselves on the floor 
until they rise at the end of an hour, 

so another two can take their place. 
They keep such vigil around the clock

when they aren't braiding their voices 
in a choir, or emptying a box where 

the faithful have put prayer requests
on slips of paper. This is what they do: 

perpetual adoration before the monstrance, 
its sunburst rays of burnished gold; its clear 

window covering a lunette that makes 
a little shrine for the consecrated 

body. Outside, the lance-like winds 
carve their own nests in the world.

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