"Only think, my children, how it is God's grace
To abound in the firmament and attend this place."
The guests glance at watches; the couple stand
Heads bent and uneasy, but understand

That here it has ended, all the nights out late,
The laughter and the mad, half-married state.
A rustle of impatience as the priest again
Descants on the penalties and the endless pain.

"Never will you know if you break these vows
How happy are those who will keep God's house
Free of the serpent that infects with guile
His innocent of reasons, her honeyed smile."

At last, rather angrily following this,
Bruised into questioning the Judas kiss,
I wonder how well the Church spoke out
At the tortures, the murders, the stifled doubt?

The priest moves to sacrament. His hands in prayer
Are skilled in this reverence, though there's nothing there
But words, most perfidious of all God's gifts,
Yet welcome and needed, as the party drifts

To cocktails, where the couple stop me to ask
Of the sermon: 'Uplifting, a most difficult task.'
Till leaving, much later, I hear the same cock crow
And am ashamed, me too, yes, even so.

Now in a collection published as a free ebook by Ocaso Press.