A Real Presence
Charles R. Strietelmeier

Verena’s face, a weathered board
Gouged rough and grainy,
Ripples when she laughs,
Becomes a cunning net
That captures everything.

She’s slowing down
Now, shuffles more
From side to side
Than straight ahead,
Like a safe budged forward.

Whatever Rena loves
Sticks with her –
Crazy aunts long dead,
Schools bulldozed, county fair,
Every mongrel dog she ever fed
She’s tucked away somewhere.

“And when I’m hauled to glory,
I’m taking it with me!
Whatever I’ve loved down inside my bones
I won’t give up.
I’ll smuggle it past death to God,
If he will let me.”
Rena, don’t forget me.



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