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I have been to see the priest.

I have seen the priest in shadows, holding the walls of this enclosure through the will of his faith and his penance. I have seen the priest through colorful emulsions of glass in fervent prayer. He is quiet beneath darkness, pale skin beaded by sticky sweat; gentle fingers; twitching lips; blond hair in wet clinging strands of desire. Desire. It flashed before his eyes. He is clothed in the thick black robes of his long-endured profession, trimmed in tassels of purple and gold and threads signifying lost Italian riches.

Once.

Once, I stumbled upon the priest in the darkness of these thick stone catacombs, and found him feverish, alone. He held a lone candle aloft in the air and smashed it down, erupting the passage in an instant’s worth of flame before darkness. I tried to decipher the outpouring of twisted Latin that he mumbled, dark eyes cast heaven’s way, but lost him in the recesses where he chose to hide. I spoke to the priest in tones of forgiveness as he escaped toward the west and toward the tunnels of his sanctuary, black robes like wings whipping fiercely behind. I saw the image of the raven in the priest, and I wondered at his sorrow. I screamed for the priest, lost in the bowels of his tortured faith, and he screamed too, screamed beneath a veil of Hail Mary’s and dominae dominae dominae.

I have seen the priest’s opened heart.

Before he could retreat, he caught my eyes. He caught me, he caught me in a crucifix and held me there. He caught me in the midst of his prayer and I saw doubt. I saw doubt in the eyes of the priest, and he ran from me like a man in fear for his life.

His life? His faith was everything. No wonder the sweat. No wonder the agony. No wonder he runs from you even now, no matter where within this place of stone and loss you hide. No wonder...

I have seen the priest, seen him laying on hands and engulfed in the mysteries of his faith. I have been to see the priest. I have seen his humanity, and his sacrifice, where he hides in the dark hot dungeons of his passion and of the Lord where humanity is the last thing he is looking for.

Deliver me deliver me, oh dear Lord in heaven where though art deliver me that I may rise again deliver me deliver me deliver me.

“Why are you shaking?”

Oh Father, oh Father. I have been to see the priest.

I have seen the priest’s opened heart.

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