Dark robes, bright hopes, and words
that live or die
according to the spirit that may move
or not move those who pray and don't ask why
they come each Sunday—all of this may prove
that faith survives. Or it may prove the force
of habit, or the galling rule of guilt,
or good behavior: kids learn not to horse
around in pews their parents' tithes have built.
Some people come here out of loneliness,
while others bow their heads in mortal fear;
one needs a place to wear a favorite dress;
another shows up every week to hear
the anthem. So the preacher does his best—
not always sure just whom or what he's blessed.
Jean L. Kreiling's poetry has been published widely in both print and on-line literary journals; her interdisciplinary essays have appeared in several academic journals. She is the winner of the 2011 Able Muse Write Prize for poetry, and has been a finalist for the Dogwood Poetry Prize, the Frost Farm Prize, and the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award.