Children arch their backs against the pews,
Men catalogue pocket change.
Gold earrings catch the light,
Sparkle off the walls,
Distracting the minister as he greets
An elderly woman with lacquered curls.
Her hand caught in his, she notices
How his nose resembles a modest beak.
The organ swoops down on the opening hymn.
His shoes pinch down the aisle.
Smoothing his stole, turning to face
His flock, the minister
Ruffles out his neck
And spreads his tail feathers—
Brown-gray, shimmering with purple—
Spanning the Communion table.
Later some will say
He fanned them like a peacock, others
Compare it to the dignified disclosure
Of a wild turkey.
After the service they watch him
Wing over the low hills,
Wistful and relieved.
Regina Walton is an Episcopal priest and a doctoral candidate in religion and literature at Boston University. Her poetry is forthcoming from Soundings East and Poetry East, and has appeared in Hanging Loose.