Last Latin Mass

Each word slumps its way to the high altar.
We come to weep the way the priest weeps
each time he hoes among our sins. He will
no longer go to the altar of God
the way his daddy taught him; and we, poor
children of Eve, must learn to say good-bye,
stand idly by while each prayer slams shut.

We are standing now, watching them carry
our Mass to the cross. The choir shimmers
through each of us, assures the very bones
that its old songs are the surest glory.
The Archbishop enters the cathedral
wearing a funeral in his hair. The room
gives over to grief and the grief grows limp.

I hear God say His good-bye for the lost,
feel him slip away in the last amen
as if our very litany had chanted
Him in place. The universe has blinked out!
We are left to recite our oldest prayers
and elocutions with the same sad words
we use to brush our teeth and blow our noses.

Fredrick Zydek

About the poet: Before retiring, Fredrick Zydek taught writing and theology for many years, first at UNO and later at the College of Saint Mary . Now he lives on a small farm with a creek running through it and raises soybeans and corn. He has published eight collections of poetry, and has received the Sarah Foley O’Loughlen Award by the Editors of America. T’Kopechuck: The Buckley Poems , is forthcoming from Winthrop Press. His work has appeared in numerous journals and is editor of the Lone Willow Press chapbook series.