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Poetry

In the ancient Greek, “liturgy” means “work done for the people.”

Someone calls around 9:30,
as he’s brushing his teeth for bed.

An Orthodox in a nursing home
has passed in McKeesport,
and the priest is out of town.

Up since five, he drives
the hour north, prays
for the soul, anoints the body.

Earlier, after Matins and the First Hour
and taking a call from Bishop Mitrophan,

it was fifty minutes south
to his mission church in Fairmont
for the Hours, Confession, and Liturgy,

then back to Saint George’s
for Great Vespers at four.

Most days, he reads the Bible
an hour aloud onto cassettes.
Gives away full sets as gifts.

He’s read it cover-to-cover
thirty-five times.

He prays the Jesus Prayer
when he drives
or returns calls from parishioners
on his cell.

He always wears pit boots
with his cassock.

It’s after midnight as he sits
to untie them.

Past the picture window,
the coal stacks of the power plant
flash white into the sky.

Down the hill in low fog,
the Monongahela.

The plant’s been closed for years.


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