Outside the Church

The clinic hardly ever called the cops  
The church never did   as it stood 
above the measured doses 
of free penicillin and Quell
above those eternally seeking salvation
in the all-night rap rooms
soaking abscesses   in patience   in stupor
confusion and hot water
up against the church 
between the gray 
walls and the low branches 
you had to crawl
like a penitent over the roots
ducking beneath the leaves 
to get to the sanctuary 
empty spray cans and garbage

From A Plastic Bag of Red Cells by Annie Petrie-Sauter. Copyright © 2010 by Annie Petrie-Sauter. Used by permission of Bright Hill Press.