Maguire's Afternoon Stint
Maguire sat in the church; she sat staring at the crucifix above
the altar with her legs crossed, her hands folded together resting
on her knees. The crucified aged by time, dust and grime, hung
with eyes closed as if he was trying to shut out the agonized
pain of the world. She breathed in slowly, let her eyes scan over
the wooden Christ, the battered old cross from which he hung.
She sighed. Shed acquired a fascination with crucifixes
in recent months; couldnt explain why or precisely when
itd begun. She fidgeted, let her leg swing over the other
so that her foot was rising and falling like a child at play.
The church was empty; the silence was taunting; the smell of incense
hung on the air. Her two friends Mary and Magdalene had gone off
with two boys from the town that had absconded from school, like
the girls themselves, and were probably doing things that Martha
did not want to think about at that moment. Anyway, shed
no desire to play gooseberry or hang around like a pork chop at
a Jewish wedding. The crucified was speechless; not a word escaped
from his wooden lips. If only hed say something, she mused,
scrunching her hands together like one in desperate prayer. Just
a slight movement from him, a small gesture of movement, she muttered.
The mass had long ended, but the smell of it still hung about
the church like alcohol on her das breath. There was a smell
of damp wood and bodies; incense still clung to the air like a
man hanging from a cliff edge. Was it true what Magdalene said
about Sister Lucy Father Joseph? she mused, letting her eyes wander
off from the crucifix and settle on the side chapel with its statute
of the Virgin. The place full of flowers and plants that made
it stink like a florist, with a combination of new and dying flowers;
the smell of stake breath from whispered prayers, she thought,
pushing away the idea of the nun and the priest and whatever Magdalene
had rumoured. Are you listening? shed asked the crucified
in a whisper, turning her gaze back to the place above the altar.
However, no reply came; just silence; just that dull silence.
Sighed. Fidgeted. Breathed in deep. Sister Agnes had spoken of
seeing angels, had caught her imagination like a fish on a hook,
reeled her in, to the point that she sat there in the church wondering
if the crucified was going to speak, or some angel come down and
sit with her in the pews and speak things or just sit there and
smile. None came. No smile or whispered words, certainly no movement
from the crucified hanging there on his battered cross with his
eyes closed, his lips sealed. She sighed, closed her eyes, wiggled
her numb backside, uncrossed her legs, imagined it all instead,
inside her fourteen years old head and brain, hoped that this
time shed not be disappointed as she often was by her das
promises and drunken words that danced in her memory like taunting
demons of the night.
Collett has been writing since 1972. He has had two slim volumes
of poems published in 1974 and 1978. Since that time he has had
poems printed in anthologies, magazines, and newspapers.