The steeple at St. James church is square, and sunrise service is held atop it. Narrow, steep stairs built possibly two centuries ago lead the way, along with a space one must crawl through (have you crawled recently? it's inelegant)... winding up through stained glass, past the bell tower, onto the very top of the steeple: the highest up I've ever been in my hometown.
You wear jeans, and usually sweatshirts, because somehow it's always a cold Easter morning. I didn't even bother with makeup or contact lenses today, which is the opposite of the nearly two-hour long beautification process I undertook at Christmas.
Facing east, then south (toward the Presbyterian church); then west (to the river, which this morning still had a bright moon over it); then north (toward City Hall); then east again for the final song, which always is sung just as the sun crests over the horizon. I don't know how they always get the timing perfectly. This morning, the keyboard wasn't working, so we sang four hymns a cappella. Blessedly, the choir master was in attendance.
the cadences of my prayers were formed at this church
where I pause, mid-sentence, even if there's not a comma
or when I skip over commas
as well as the dialect of my prayers
which often, out of nowhere, have an eastern Carolina accent
even when I am in New Orleans
a boy I went to kindergarten through 11th grade
but his sister, who is my brother's age, was
and his mother and father
on the drive back to the house
after our brief 25-minute service
my mother mentioned that his mother had cancer
or has cancer
my brother and I asked after the correct verb tense
but my mother didn't know.
I still feel too young for our parents to be dying.
I think a lot of it is that I still have three of four grandparents
and my one deceased grandfather
did not pass until my senior year of college
this church taught me how to worship
I have since learned how to pray
and will keep her in my thoughts
and hope she finds a past verb tense