With the sigh of a god who’s lived too long
And the fog descends
Over the living and the dead of Saint John.
Centuries of Protestant pride
And Catholic shame
And famine-starved bone
Like continental plates colliding
Ploughing up mountains
Providing the habitat
For that singular species
The Old Saint John family.
They’ve created their own gods
Thick-featured statues with broad shoulders
Squatting outside Market Square
In the paintings of Miller Brittain.
But these thick people are only aspirational
The truth being that the Saint Johner
Is as thin-skinned as the Pinot grapes
That also thrive under cover of fog.
The bricks of their ancient buildings
Are mortared together
With centuries of insults
both real and imagined
(Seven parts of the latter to every one of the former).
They know their prayers
But the one they know best
Is the one they would never dare say
Before one another.
It is a prayer the people in their Sunday finest
know better than the Lord’s
Than the Hail Mary.
We are afraid
We feel alone
We want to be wanted.
This is the prayer that still echoes
Against the stone wallsOf their family chapels.