End of Mass

By A. C. CLARKE

The long thin priest raises his hand in
dismissive blessing. His vestments glitter

green and gold, that insect sheen
which dizzies me with thoughts of summer’s

unforgiveness. The memory of incense
weighs down the cloistered air.

Along the walls Christ burdened by his cross
enacts the suffering I’ve caused.

Confession boxes wait near candles
spiked through the gut. Bless me father

for I am damned. We file out like
a funeral cortege. Saints follow us

with sightless eyes. I step into the light
near-blinded, breathe the scent of rain.


‘End of Mass’ by A. C. Clarke was commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (July 2020) judged by Terry Jones.


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