Empty Church

I have not stepped inside to meditate,
in hopes of salvation,
or to escape the heat of a summer day.
Nor is it for the spice
of lingering incense that still peppers
the cloistered air.
Despite its emptiness, I have not come
to partake in the silence.
I know better than to think I might be
the only one present.
No, approaching the nave I expect to
greet familiar faces.
A stern Saint Paul, the Virgin Mary
tucked into her niche,
the fourteen stations lining the walls.
And front and center,
forever garbling his Latin responses,
that young altar boy,
a ghost my soul has not forgotten.
Even in faith’s absence,
here inside, sanctified awe persists.

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