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.