Full moon gathering

church

Two dogs chased each other

the male avidly pursuing the female

as she scurried through the wet grass

his snout eagerly searching for her scent

 

The people gathered,

sweaty bodies and odors mingling

as the sky grew darker

and the full moon rose

 

Fireflies twinkled against the night sky

and an earthy wood smoke permeated the air

The moon shone brightly

but nobody noticed

 

Brighter lights glowed beneath the tarps

strewn by the hands of those brown people

in that little village, the volunteers for Christ

(Who will lift their hands up to the Lord tonight?)

 

A young teenage girl

stepped gingerly toward the benches

to join the other laughing girls

An older man called her to him

 

She smiled and stood before him awkwardly

He held her attention with empty words

until she turned and walked away

his eyes riveted to her legs, her hips

 

The concrete block church

pounded with the rhythm of the loudspeaker

pumping out live music played by brown hands

on keyboards and synthesized percussion

 

The people clapped. Some danced.

Others stood staring.

One woman convulsed cathartically,

trance-like, shaking her arms up and down

 

(Thank you, brothers and sisters, for being here tonight)

 

The dogs barked at a horde of young boys

entertaining themselves by throwing stones

arousing the animals to howl and lunge in defense

The boys kept at it, ignoring the church and the music

 

Men stood watching in single file beside the pickup trucks

parked alongside the dirt road leading toward the village

They talked and laughed, staring at the young women

adjusting their brightly colored hair ribbons and skirts

 

A visiting preacher from another world

spoke to the Mayan people about blood sacrifice

the sacrificial lamb, perfect and free from sin

and how to be redeemed, to receive salvation

 

They mostly stared, unmoving

faces frozen in stoic acceptance

of a message they have no choice but to believe

(What other choice is there?)

 

The stark white skin of the pastor and his friends

visiting missionaries, eager to help

Their bright faces like the moon’s light against the dark sky

The villagers looking upon them in some kind of awe

 

Moist bodies pressed against each other

offering comfort and hope that they would be safe

a reassuring sense of belonging

And there was enough food for everybody

 

The dogs scrounged for leftover scraps

The people lingered after the service, chattering

hands shaking, clasping

The missionaries were proud of doing such good work

 

The brown people angled for attention from the visitors

(If you have a need tonight, my friends, the Lord will provide)

The full moon stared in silent aloofness, the fireflies danced

and the dog mounted his bitch

 

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