After Christian Orgies in the Catacombs

(for Ernest Sandeen)

Like you, I knew Friday’s heaviness.
A nun in her dark habit rattled
beads of grief, a geography
of stern shadows lumbered
in churches where children
learned men have hammered men,
naked and bloody, to a tree.

And, older now, I am wondering
whether faith is
a slipping into Nothing, a cloudless night
where stars

are only orbs of unbelief,
no more.
I imagine underground lie legions of sorry

Christians lulled by earth, who make no blasting into
sunrise, but know
a smoldering, an extraordinary mildness,
and no one, neither demon nor angel,
looks for them, who dream
est dulce that dust calls back their bones.