High Requiem
by Bill Tremblay


by Bill Tremblay

Smoke white as the priest’s cinctured

alb rose with his call for us to shorten

the sentences of the dearly departed.

I saw millions of shadows wandering

beneath mosaic floors, shuffling in gray

catacombs where the old are left in storms

whose end they know will come but

never when. Blind ghosts bumped into

slime walls, knocking over iron braziers

of cold green fire. My dreams always

play out under gray cathedral grounds.

I hear voices lost in northern pines

as I walked along the river among birches.

Only they listened to my soul. I read

gospels chiseled in black bark like Egyptian

orisons singing up the sun. In the yellowed

candlelit choir loft I saw those who lived

before the flood, who loved before the halls

of hell sprang loose, the unremembered

sinners in my blood, my undocumented family

who kneeled before the thrones of lust,

the dead I carried for whom I lifted my eyes

to ask if—among those flickers—some mercy

could open the transept of God’s heart with

syllables of intercession, one note on the organ

that would awaken in future congregations

a prayer for me in the arbor of my Gethsemane.