Ecumenical – by John Repp

First Presbyterian Church Vacation Bible School, 1967

After a final drag,
the priest dropped
the fuming butt

into the cold pool
of coffee he swirled
in a Mason jar

rank with the remains
of those he’d doused
throughout our tour

of Sacred Heart.
He drank, too,
right at the altar,

then passed the cup.
The rabbi last week
wore the little hat

they wore & explained it.
The Episcopal bishop
introduced his wife,

the choir director.
Lutherans & Methodists
seemed pretty much us.

Pastor Donchez wanted
us to be sure. Everything
was sensation that summer—

the sweat my hand left
on the Bible I toted,
the mingled perfume

of the girls among us,
Bernie Siegel’s Macks
shuddering & squealing

to Progresso’s dock,
the aroma of Jim & Larry’s
marinara suffusing the air,

bald, sunburned men
in white rayon shirts
their pin-curled wives

relaxing in cool booths,
Luckies fuming, dew beading
on tumblers of iced tea,

Ball Glass’ shift-change siren
swooping roller-coaster octaves,
our Confirmation of Faith

a week closer.

John Repp grew up along the Blackwater Branch of the Maurice River in southern New Jersey and has lived for many years in Erie, Pennsylvania. His most recent collections of poetry are the chapbooks Madeleine Wolfe—A Sequence (Seven Kitchens Press) and Cold-Running Current (Alice Greene & Co.), both published in 2019.

Art: "Celestial" by Sandy Coomer - 12X12, acrylic pour on claybord
Statement: If angels exist, surely they would swirl in heaven’s halls entertained by our human understanding of religion. This piece is spirit swept and mingled.