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Brassie was trying to draw me into a theological debate,

but I wasn’t going to discuss childhood religious backgrounds-

except in verse.

So, here it is:


(Photo by Brian Harrington Spier)

They processed, two by two, into the ark

of the Pineapple *-first communicants,

flouncing their frothy frocks, not stained or marked:

virginal white; wee brides of Christ; amantes

at seven years , plighting their childish troth.

They flocked past three pollarded limes on grass-

a lawned intersection, where both

roads diverged-down for schooling; up for Mass.

Sentinels crowning the brow of the hill,

the tallest, Christ, the other two the thieves.

(Calvaire framed by the sill

of our window.)

I watched their falling leaves

through foggy condensation and the chill

miasma of Clydeside theology,

while daily swallowing its bitter pill.

Jealous of their time off school; espousal;

jaundiced by their elect doxology.

In my heart a reprobate arousal:

angered at exclusion.  Why all these

bigamously betrothed and me left out?

Had Mary instituted these decrees

to snub Proddy Dogs**…Rangers fans who doubt

her omnipotence?

We didn’t have oil

in our lamps, so we’d no invitation

to their marriage feast, though we were loyal

to our god.  Tickets on this occasion

were for her guests.  Their initiation

gave them female relatives’ attention.

My trees, grave symbol of expiation,

were a triptych of my soul’s retention

of a fierce individuality.

I would not batter at the banquet door,

for I preferred to face reality-

that from outside, I’d worship and adore.

Later I sneaked in and put a spadeful

of earthworms in the holy water stoup.

I did it, not because I was hateful,

but so my God could have His little coup.

(* Pineapple- ‘chapel’ in Clydeside argot.

** Proddy Dogs- Protestants)