Mass of Remembrance

Mass of Remembrance
by Gloria Heffernan

He pours a glass of wine,
not the Communion wine
reserved for tomorrow morning,
just a stale Merlot
left over from dinner
one night last week.

Nothing sacred,
but helpful perhaps,
as he stares again at the page,
empty but for a few words
scribbled at the top,
Homily--
Sunday, September 16, 2001.

He knows
they will come in droves
tomorrow morning,
looking for answers
he does not have.
No chapter or verse
to salve this wound.

“Blessed are the meek?”
They will rise as one
and angrily exit the pews.
“Turn the other cheek?”
Both cheeks are already
swollen and red with tears
of rage and grief.

He wants to nourish their souls
but all the loaves
and all the fishes combined
would not be enough
to feed their hunger
for answers. 

Neither the Prodigal Son
nor his stodgy brother
have any insights to share.
And Job just shakes his head
in mute resignation. 

Another sip of wine,
no after-taste of blood.
For that he turns to the 6:00 News
and listens to the reporters
recounting the death toll.

He drains the last few drops,
stares at the blank page,
and writes the only words
he can muster.

“Let us pray.”


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Gloria Heffernan’s poetry chapbook, Some of Our Parts, was recently published by Finishing Line Press. Her first full-length volume will be published by New York Quarterly Books in 2019. Her work has appeared in over forty publications. She is an adjunct instructor at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY.