Perhaps all churches should remain open to the heavens
and unroofed embracing elements, the swifts
flitting through transepts and naves,
and all who enter regard an ocean of sky,
the rain, an array of clouds
as the baptismal font, one station of the cross,
caravels sailing on stone recede insignificant
to the blue, blue sky. Devout
tourists limp through heavy heat,
their cameras flashing like lightning.
Enter schoolchildren on a field trip
visiting archeological items housed in the unscathed chancel.
Stalled behind the glass door like enthusiastic sheep,
their teachers trying to quiet them,
an impossible task, girls echo hushing the boys.
The class disperses
humming like a hive of bees. Someone
has found the two mummies from Peru,
two leathery children safe behind a box of glass
bounty of expeditions to the New World. Now others
stampede to share their discovery shocked by skin
still intact over delicate bones, the boy’s teeth immobilized
into an eternal smile, the girl’s tomboy hair unkempt
scattershot past her shoulders. They look away
when they realize the mummified children
were their age and tied up with ropes.
Who tucked their knees under their chins?
Who wrapped their arms around their knees?
Who bound them with such skillful knots?
And, why, why take them so far from their home?
by Kathleen Willard