One of the smokers,
Tom Via or Frank Furrow,
would thumb his lighter open
and pop the flame to the waxen wick,
then he'd click it shut, hike up his choir robe
and tuck the potent silver box back against his thigh.
I held God's stick, fingering the trigger
that fed the wick to Jesus, light of the world.
Not too much, it would make smoke and risk
scorching the cross when I honored it.
Too little and even the breeze
of my slow pace would snuff it.
Could I kill God?
I loved the thing's economy,
double-headed, the flame and the silent bell
for smothering the flame.
All week it hung beneath the preacher's robe
behind the door to the choir loft.
It rattled with every entrance and waited
to be ignited by the instrument of a man's death.
All Sunday afternoon,
I could taste its brass on my hands.