Liturgy of the Swallow |
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Liturgy of the Swallow

First-Place 2014 Poetry Contest Winner

While Cardinal Swanson flares
his satin sleeves on high to let fly
the word of God, the little bird,
swift and sweet as a stolen kiss,
having lost its way in, seeking
a way out, tries flying

some dazzling demonstrations of flight
above the heads of a gaping congregation,
dives way down to sway a swerving
choir, swoops way up to light on
the barbed brow of Jesus,
pauses there to perch

a parable on the virtues of an open
window, then sets off on a mission
of light and thuds like a bible
into a muddled rainbow
of leaded glass, drops as
dead, but dangles

from the sill, then flutters
up to cling to a leaded seam
of sky, and hangs there faintly
pecking at the pane of Sebastian,
its sleek wings drawn in,
its forked tail trembling,

in back a baby crying.


Badger born and bred, Dion Kempthorne was a linebacker on the 1963 Wisconsin Rose Bowl team. He earned a PhD in English from UW-Madison, and then taught English in the UW Colleges and served as CEO/Dean at UW-Richland.

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