The Sacred Presence

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For Felicity Walker

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This morning, at the altar rail, I kneel

Beside a woman called Felicity

As delicate as china roses, frail

Much closer to the mystic veil than me

And as the priest approaches with the host

A ray of sun comes sudden from the east

Lord, let it shine on her, who needs it most

And waste it not on me, who needs it least

And so it comes, in blazing gold and white

Infusing her with glory as she prays

Behold, she is an angel full of light

Enfolded in the wonder of his ways

There at the altar with Felicity

I feel the sacred presence next to me

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© Gail Foster 14th May 2017

Easter Sunday; Devizes

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for John (Ted) Dexter

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no cars on the road

all of the town sofa bound

food lulled and sleeping

walking home, a man

evensong’s slow gentle peace

on him like monks’ robes

old man and poet

meet in quiet communion

by the graveyard gate

souls of the same shade

in unspoken fellowship

watching the birds fly

on the bridge, silence

white blossom, silver water

Easter Sunday light

*

© Gail Foster 17th April 2017

The Curious Offering of the Sacristan

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The curious offerings of sacristans

Are given in obscure humility

The symbol of the cupping of the hands

Enshrines the essence of this mystery

The dawn unlocked; the turning of a key

The mystic world behind the little door

The mourning weepers, watching, silently

The quiet foot upon uneven floor

The layered shadowed centuries; the pass

Of long dead worshippers before the throne

Slow shifts of coloured pools of stains of glass

Soft drift of latticed light on pillar stone

The empty candle, thirsting for new oil

Unscrewed and filled, screwed up again and lit

The hidden corners, carved by masons’ toil

In which a wary flickered flame may flit

The covering, uncovering; each fold

Of linen and of altar cloth an art

Within the starch of white, on marble cold

The space to hold His living, beating heart

Here, understated wafers wait in line

For blessing, as an unblessed congregation

Here silver, water, light, and red wine shine

Anticipating sacred consecration

Here eye, and hand, and mind, seek symmetry

In objects placed, in psychic ebbs and flows

Seek that perfection only God can see

In right angle and scented mystic rose

When all are done and gone, her hands will shake

The fragments of His flesh on holy ground

Shed drops upon the earth its thirst to slake

Pour water through the light without a sound

When all are gone, all blessed with wine and bread

There, in the East, where better men have trod

She kneels and presses to the step her head

And, lost in awe, she speaks these words to God

I am that ancient soul you always knew

A part of you, from when time first began

The I am that I am, the that in you

That serves thee, as I will, while still I can

I come to you as Christian, Muslim, Jew

Agnostic, Gnostic, Druid, Angel, Man

The cupping of my hands I give to you

The curious offering of a sacristan

© Gail Foster 2016

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This poem has been chosen as Poem of the Month at Sherborne Abbey

I’m thrilled