By Noel Hodson
Catholic, priest, sex, celibacy, Go Bible, seminary, life and death, Da Vinci Code, Codex, meaning
By Noel Hodson
12th February 1969
re-titled October 2004.
Relatives gleaming with pride, pride at my manly humbleness,
tentatively touching God, in the sober serge suit.
Friends shift uneasily outside; outside the circle of friendliness,
Wanting to leave, but too respectful.
At last the meandering hesitant parting comes.
A mixture of tears from mother, grave wonderment from my brother,
And slaps on the back from departing chums.
Leaving me alone with the echoing college, and a new Bible.
Cars break from ranks in the forecourt.
Friends eye and spy the sun, taking deep breaths of relief.
And from my brother, a hidden shake of disbelief.
Please God, let him understand.
Briskly, neck well muscled and tanned even,
in its telltale confines of starch,
I slip into the ungrateful world,
loving it and determined to shake them into Godly ways
with words and modern methods.
Subtle sermons stirring life and perhaps fear,
into blank faces.
Godís children bawling at the back, cannot drown my resonance.
But next week, as they sneak, into the box,
They are unchanged.
A guilty stirring in the loins, prompts me to active sport.
Weaving, dashing unchecked, to score again in the frosty goal.
Fit and twenty-five, leading the parish to victory.
Girls leap with pleasure showing flashing thighs
and hug the team with glee.
Except me, the scorer.
They draw back with blushes;
inclining heads and tugging hems.
Not the choicest of Godís chosen few,
These girls who come to cheer at the parish football match.
And in the male wooden shack;
Muted curses I do not hear; a musty odour I should not know.
Fighting with my function.
Sex releasing itself in blood pressure and boils behind the collar.
With Godís help and sympathetic nods from worn out Father Burnley.
Tortured dreams of Guinevere and classical Helen,
Leave stark starched patches on the sheets.
Life ebbs and flows.
Pulpitíed, I see it on aging faces.
Balanced families in the pews.
Some, in the box, confessing how,
Pills and Caps and Interruptus.
Rubber products prolong the pleasure;
Long denied to me.
I move sharply now.
Clapping hands on praiseworthy shoulders,
when a touch would be enough.
My voice a nervous, muted bark,
My laugh a treble note;
when a belly base would endear.
Father Burnley greying in another world.
A touch of steel at my temples.
We eat at the same table, building a better world together.
But nowhere do we meet.
He - weak and ineffectual.
Please God, help me to be humble,
Like poor old Father Burnley.
Pleasant, fulsome parish this.
No murderers, few rogues or thieves, who need a lead to God;
Only indiscretions of the flesh.
And who am I, with guilty hand, to rob them of that.
Saved souls and solace sought.
Father Burnley long passed on,
his name an epitaph in new brick.
As shall be mine in Godís time.
The ugly head sinks back with age,
conquered by age, hot baths and sport.
Now Iím nailed, sealed in wood.
Head towards the altar and the dark earth.
Relatives stiff with proud tears.
Proud of my destination.
Please God, let Heaven be all,
But mostly Ė Dear God -
The Resurrection of the Flesh.