Between the Beads

Young, uncomfortable,
With jumper and blouse and plaid
Ugly and uniform
In the dim-dark, four-sided chapel
With forget-me-not blue stained glass
The plastic beads in tiny fingers
Speaking in unison.

Old, sick,
With busted jaw and hurt lungs and black
Unwashed and loose
In the yellow light, busted interior
With urine-soaked walls
The wooden bits between calluses
Calling out alone.

All the words are the same
But the seasons have changed,
Morning and noon and night
Each moon a shadow of its former self
Mother, may I? Will you be there?

When the words have changed from a chant
To a scream
To a whisper?

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