In Church in Cuenca

In church in Cuenca Ecuador

I watched a woman

Come to mass

Before she went to market

To sell the chickens

Strapped upon her back

Their scrawny featherless legs and pointy feet near my nose as we danced up the aisle

To receive bread that

A priest held like the rising sun.

He stood behind a large offering basket

So I gathered my nine coins.

She reached back

And like the archer pulls an arrow from the quiver

She pulled a chicken

And laid her there

On radishes and potatoes

That the toothless man sacrificed

Just a moment before.

Manna back to god

Lunch for a priest

The tenth coin.

Timothy Safford is an Episcopal Priest, having moved to Philadelphia from Los Angeles in 1999 to serve as the pastor of Christ Church, in Old City.  Poetry is a hobby, and, “In Church in Cuenca” is his first published poem.