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The Vatican Exhibit

After a visit to the museum, February 12, 1984

ho hides behind the ragged

Edges of the Mask

Beckoning from the bits

Of mud and straw?

Guarded? Which side is guarded

by the Ghostly-lighted glass cage?

Visitors shrink from the stare

Of the whitewashed bark.

Empty round holes that see


Vestiges of Idolatry! Imagine

Believing in such things they

Laugh nervously, clutching

Their own talismans

Around them. Layers

Of labels and Letters and price tags.

Round mouth too small for words

Emits a howl.

Spirit breath flutters

Against the glass.

Chilled, the visitors hurry on

Filing into the next

Room and the comfort

Of Angels and Gold.

Guided by odors of sacrifice,

Fire and flint.

I slip through the glass.

Chanting mimics my heartbeat.

I press my face into the

Ancient wood. It fits.

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