The Lingering Question

His not quite pickled,

           not quite unbelieving

                  litre beer glass shaped


Snaked up out of the depths

         Striking with a flat headed thump

                           Leaving a mark

                                      that is not quite a wound

But has become a scar

         A touchstone pock in the flesh of my faith.


         Why can’t

                  Why can’t we

                           Why can’t we be

                                    Why can’t we be naked

                                             Why can’t we be naked in

                                                      Why can’t we be naked in church?

Why – pretend the pretence of perfection?

Why – trade truthful tones for tedious tomfoolery?

Why – cram Omnipotent Creator in impotent canon?

         He held himself

                  Not quite aloof

                           Not quite disdainful

                                    Tears sloshing beneath a façade of derision

                                             The beer – the excuse and cover

                  For that soul shriek

that tore across the table

and dissipated the smoke-filled air.

I fumbled an answer

         To his beseeching

                  He subsided into his beer

                           The snake of his challenge withdrawn


         That scar

                  Nearly three decades past

                                 Still asks his question

                                 Still comes to every service

                                As cup and bread are lifted and asks

Why can’t we be naked in church?