What He Believed

by Paul Hooker

He was a quiet man and simple,
given mainly to routine and order—
always order—his watch and keys
kept in the wooden tray atop the dresser.
On Saturday he polished shoes,
every pair in the house, black and brown,
snapped the brush and buffing cloth, until
scuff at last gave way to shine. He combed
his hair with Wildroot Cream Oil ’til
he could no longer find it at the store.

When he preached, he spoke of love
as though it were an experiment
with outcome still uncertain, using mostly
other people’s words, the fonts from which
he drew what confidence he could muster.
Even his robe—black, unadorned with stoles
to mark the seasons of liturgic fashion—
seemed less Geneva gown than blackout curtain
that cloaked a darkling chaos. He saw it once
and ever after could not look away.