Those mornings in bed you pray
somehow they’ll let you stay home:
then you think of the moment
Sunday school ends, those fifteen minutes
before the grown-ups sing their final hymn —
how you’ll run across the street
to the tiny candy store (there’s one
across from every church)
and give half the offering your father
pressed into your hand
to the old agnostic behind the counter.
This is money for God.
But your religion’s the faith of candy —
so you give it to the old man still
in his slippers and bathrobe.
Miraculously, each weekend, this
second allowance has arrived:
you’ve made a choice, stolen half
the tithe, now stand pointing out
chocolates and licorice
behind finger-smudged sheets of glass.
He crams them in a small brown paper bag.
You cram them down your gullet
before the long ride home.
Riding a sugar-rush all the way,
a delicious ride home from church:
in the back-seat,
the blood in your veins
thickly renewed, and yes, yes,
riding the sweet rapture of sin.