Trainee Priest at Rochuskapelle

by Richard Scott

Saint Sebastian stands covered with the hunger-cloth –
a hooded detainee from off the seminary television.
We must give up the sight of him to focus on the bare Easter altar.

Good Friday I will lift the veil, search his face for a clue of agony.
I don’t believe the sculptor’s lie, he cannot be at peace.
He is like me, young when he gave himself to God.

While the priests are diluting wine
I would have him tug off his sack, step down, walk…
I will lie him across my lap, pull out the cock-feathered arrows,

wash the holes in his body, sew them up
with my mother’s darning needle, ask if I will be forgiven
for wanting his delicate blood on my fingers.

But Sebastian is carved, I have traced the chisel’s evidence
with my thumb. I know my thread can’t heal –
he and his arrows are of the same body of Milanese oak.

There is no stop where either wound or weapon begin –
our devotion is a perpetual hurt. I am like him,
young, bound for a lifetime of suffering behind cloth.