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Two Sundays ago I joined regular churchgoers

reluctant children and sunlight streaming

through stained glass windows, Saint Cecilia

and Saint Dorothea, my yearly pilgrimage

in this salvaged boat built for Episcopalians

halfway between the bay and the breaking waves


Fishermen, lean and tanned, lift prayers

and deep sea voices instead of anchors and

crab pots while the women, the widows,

the lifelong islanders wearing sandals,

church shoes, summery casual clothes,

rhinestone jewelry from another century

stand, sit, sing, kneel, chanting the names

of those in need and those serving in the military.


The organist is young, flamboyant;

the ushers and vicar are not, but here

with familiar prayers, unfamiliar hymns,

The Book of Common Prayer,

Holy Communion by intinction,

church on an island off the coast of New Jersey

My heart, my head, my soul washed clean

washed clear like the sound of breaking

Amen.


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