by Josh Bishop
Three stone steps, then through the chapel doors to stairs
ascending down into the hull. There’s ceiling tiles
beneath our feet (black-and-white-checked chess-board squares)
and far above our heads the vaulted roof-ridge keel’s
held high by buttressed ribs. Brilliant stained-glass portholes
cast colored light full bright from some delightful land
on pews where galley bondslaves four times each week row
their oars in common meter to the drums’ command.
On the sternchancel deck, beside the ship’s-wheel pulpit,
the faithful helmsman crouches, steering strong and true
along the Captain’s bearing, guided by the sextant
of the Word. The westward rose-window prow cuts through
the swells to lead our rightwise stone sanctuary
toward the kingdom that has overturned this world.
A watchman chimes eight bells from the crow’s-nest belfry;
the lamps are lit, main and mizzen sails unfurled;
the crew belowdecks gathers at the board to eat
a double portion, strong wine and hardtack rations.
Weigh anchor! We’ve long leagues left in this topsy sea —
keel-up, mast-down — and still the Captain cries, “Sail on.”