by thea marie
A secret that shouldn't have been kept
His face, so benevolent, looked down at us from the altar,
As he prayed the appropriate prayers in Latin and in English.
He went through the mysteriously sacred ritual motions,
His visage, a ray of hopeful warmth
Beaming down upon those gathered to hear
The Word so eloquently spoken from his lips.
His richly cultivated voice stirring up within us the stagnant emotions
And inspiring at least a week’s worth of lofty aspirations.
After the service, he would stand outside,
Greeting us, shaking our hands with his.
Sharing heartening words and the occasional well-placed platitude,
He skillfully garnered the confidence and the trust
Of the flock he was supposed to be tending.
Nobody knew at the time
That he was slaughtering the lambs
While nobody was looking.
Behind that little mesh door
Which obscured his features, insuring his anonymity,
He absorbed our shameful, whispered evils.
Then sanctimoniously, he issued penance,
And we did as we were told because we believed.
Because we believed, we were rendered sightless,
Blinded by that humble black cassock and starched white collar.
Clueless, totally clueless, we were
That the devil walked inside them.
But the children knew.
They had seen for themselves and had been burned by his fire.
Others also knew, but they chose to look away.
Deafened by His Holiness, we weren’t allowed to hear the screams.
Swept under the ecclesiastical carpet
The secret resided there, hidden,
But continuing to grow, continuing to prey,
Festering like an inflamed, untended boil
Until it could no longer be contained, and finally it burst,
Spewing forth, splattering us all with its putrid ugliness,
Dissolving our trust,
Tainting our faith,
and leaving us questioning
All we've been taught to be true,