In the Chapel of St. Mary’s

I can’t tell you what happened
there, why I entered the sanctuary,

a non-believer. Only that I
have been thinking about worship,

the altar of the body and supplication,
for some time. My thoughts turn,

as they often do in this season of absence,
to my wife, and how tired a god can get

when called, and too often, for little reason
but loneliness. Of course I don’t mean god here,

but rather the woman I love, who alters
the orbit of my life, pulls me with the density

of light toward her, the draw thinner
when she is farther away, as she is now.

I try to find comfort in the inevitability
of science, when what I lack is faith.

The sanctuary—the stained glass,
four girls saturating it with soft chatter,

small pots of stargazer lilies, a lace ribbon
for each pew—this place is full of faith

in the unknown, and I don’t know
how to believe in what I cannot see.

Tonight, I will drive through the foothills
and into the valley. I will try to make

a little practice, to trust you are with me,
even though you are somewhere else.

Donika Kelly, “In the Chapel of St. Mary’s” from The Renunciations. Copyright © 2021
by Donika Kelly. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Graywolf Press.