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Holiness
Oliver de la Paz

The first word in our catechism was "holy",
and we would march up the aisle, boys matched with girls,
our hands folded while we soaked in grace from the blue
light of stained glass. We were a river of blessings.

I wanted to be "holy", and I had practiced
my prayers before a mirror until I looked like a statue
or a ghost. No one could deny me this office
and I walked with my eyes toward the altar.

No one drifted. No one held their breath.
I didn't have visions of angels then.
I could only hold my place, keeping my chin up
as if I were swimming. What else is there to know

about divinity? What else is there to know
about the poverty of a word?

Featured in THE POETRY MOBILE DISPLAY at Heritage2, October 16, 2004 George Washington University, Washington, DC



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