• Vol. 05
  • Chapter 04
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A summons to cure or to hear confessed
their leaden sins, can come like that of Christ
our Lord, thief-like to the door and spire,
will break and enter silence; I at books,
or unmantled of this rough priestly dress,
asleep and heedless at the dwindling fire.

Once, a peasant woman, in deep-breathing death
had whispered that she’d been adulteress
for half a year, then was left unshriven
all those guilty days, til now alive to
her own sinking heart, she must slough it off,
nearing the unbeaten bounds of heaven.

And so against the drift, I soot this snow
with my blackened soles, move mountains to reach
the clammy hands and brows of sallow faced
labourers or withered youths, eyes on me
as though on Christ himself, beseeching that
I, a broken man, grant them parting grace.