My Fish Build a Tabernacle
Archbishop Plecostomus decreed
In the days of the third charcoal filter
That a tabernacle be constructed
In the corner of the aquarium, near the window;
That it be made of gravel; that it be mortared
With the excretions and secretions of the tank people;
That it rise halfway up the tank wall;
And that it have a smooth roof
Suitable for the Archbishop to suck algae from.
Surely, said the Archbishop, once we have
Built this glorious structure
God will bless us.
So the tank people built their tabernacle,
And the Archbishop sucked on the roof.
Every day they waited for God
But the only one who ever came
Was the creep who brought the Tetra-Min.
My Cat Stages a Passion Play
My cat sat on his cross washing his face.
What’s all this, I asked, and he explained
That he was Christ in a passion play,
But the cross was too big for a cat to carry
So could I tote it for him?
Sure, I said, (I love my cat.)
Just remember that you owe me one.
I dragged my cat’s cross through three malls;
I carried it across the freeway, beyond the meadow,
To the mountain.
Wow, this is agony, I cried.
You do agony very well, said my cat,
But I’m the star, not you
So try to tone it down a bit.
Chastened, I let him nail me to the cross
Because, as he explained, his little paws
Would never stretch.
I cried out in pain as I hung in the hot sun,
But his eyes were far away.
You owe me a big one, I said, sobbing,
But he did not hear me.
At last the sun began to set,
And all the people watching
(Did I say there was a crowd?)
Clapped and cheered admiring my amazing cat
Who bowed as kings do, just the slightest hunch of the shoulders
As if to pounce.
Then he stretched as high against the cross
As he could as if to help me down;
But all he did was sharpen his claws on the wooden cross,
And lick my soles with his scratchy tongue.
My Dog Enjoys the Eucharist
I leaned against the communion rail,
My head bowed in prayer before the mystery,
Hands cupped to receive my king,
When I heard happy barking next to me.
Looking up, I saw my golden retriever
Wagging her tail, her front paws on the rail.
Here girl! Here girl! said the priest.
And he gave her a wafer which she chomped down greedily.
S’more? Want some more? he asked her.
Woof! Woof! she barked, and wagged gaily.
Look at that, I said to the man on my other side.
She gets two. I never got two.
The difference between dogs and humans, said the man,
Is that dogs feel no sense of obligation.
They are not grateful to receive a treat, only glad.
Their only interest is in more.
That’s the difference between dogs and people.
Dogs do not give thanks; they have no sense of joy.
They know only happy or sad, on or off.
That’s the difference between dogs and men.
The priest gave her more than a dozen wafers.
He gave her a big ceramic bowl filled with wine.
He blessed her and scratched her ears and felt her nose.
When he was done at last, he came to me.
I bowed my head and cupped my hands.
He held the wafer high.