A Raised Voice
Let it be Sunday and the alp-high
summer gale gusting to fifty miles.
Windmills groan in disbelief, the giant
in the pulpit enjoys his own credible
scale, stands twelve feet ‘clothed in fine linen’
visibly white from the waist up, all
inferior parts masked, as my father
ascends three steps, is cupped like an egg.
The pulpit floor’s eye-level, I look
up, Gordon Brown looks up, my father
looks down at his notes and begins in the
name of the father and of the son
and of the holy ghost amen, a voice
that says Jess to my mother, heightened
three steps, to which add the sanctuary
rise, the subdued pile of the Axminster
rubber. Panels of a pale-coloured wood
liturgically pointed assemble
to enclose and to elevate the voice
is it kahikatea, so readily
riddled by the worm of the borer
beetle but ideal for butter-boxes
or heart kauri? the rape of the northern
bush left plenty for pulpits and pews.
Gordon Brown, grocery and general store,
before kneeling always pushes one
oily vessel up clear of his head, the
tin lampshade clashes, the pulley squeaks.
I’m looking up into my thought
of my father, my certainty, he’ll
be safe, but what about me? What else?
A voice descends, feet scrape, we all
stand up. The scent my mother wears is
vera violetta. That can’t be it.