The altar towers above her
as she genuflects
and feels the pumiced floor
connecting with her knees.

Her bristly grey hair shirt
feels as thin as satin
even though it is worked
from the coarsest linen.

The front of her shirt
is sodden with holy water,
drenched in an effort
to wash off her sins.

A veil of frankincense
chokes the air, almost tangible,
clouding her senses
as the chill of the floor tortures her skin.

She sets down the candle
watching the viscous flow
of molten wax touch the ground,
then raises her eyes to the enamelled cross.

Her saviour’s angular features seem waxy
beneath the barbed crown,
devoid of the reassurance
she is craving to receive.

She prostrates herself,
ignoring the prickly discomfort,
as her feverish forehead
touches the icy rock.

Her hands rest in the deep clefts
moulded by thousands of hands
that touched the tiles before her,
leaving marks of devotion on the ground.

She will remain there
in rigid determination,
a malleable, devoted tool for her God,
unwavering in her faith.

Waiting until again she hears
the ethereal melody of the holy choir
reminding her of her duties
to dauphin and country.


© november child
photo credit: Jim O’Connell via flickr
in response to: Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Wordle Special Addition Touch “August 29th, 2016”