The Ghost of the Priest

The ghost of the priest
in the ruins of the church down the road
still lends his ear
to all who need a friendly guide

and so he waits
by the crumbled front steps
outwaiting the centuries
in case you grow weary of the world
in the middle of the night,
awakened by uneasy dreams
or kept awake by bitter thoughts

and you find comfort in knowing
you won’t be judged for slipping out of the house and down the road
in nightclothes and unlaced boots,
neither by neighbours nor priest,
as this is just what you do
when sorrow drives you out of bed
as many an ancestor before

and the village has ever been strong
thanks to one priest too stubborn
to let death revoke his vocation
and so you slip on your boots

and you slip out of the door
hurrying down to the pater
who will listen until dawn

and you know
you won’t feel the cold stone steps
on which all the generations sat

and you find comfort in that as well
belonging so much your body knows
the stone steps mean solace
thanks to one priest too stubborn
to let death stop him from doing
the best thing he could ever do.