My knees hurt. There is a grandfather clock

to the right of the pulpit, and its pendulum swings

in time with the rosary of the old lady kneeling

next to me. She shifts beads between her walnut knuckles

over a corduroy skirt, brown like a ploughed field.

“Virgin most prudent, pray for us. Virgin most venerable,

pray for us.” she mutters, but I want to know

if my parents will let me watch soviet cartoons

on the kitchen TV, or if they will shoo me away

telling me they really need to watch the news

to see if there will be a war. It there’s a war,

we’ll find out anyway, I think as the smoke rises

from the priest’s incense burner past the grandfather clock

up to a rough hewn St Anthony, cradling a lamb,

with a lost expression on his face.


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