Sharon Mishler Fox
Church of the Apocalypse
The people speak of “before time”–
before war, before anarchy,
before civilization fell.
Decrees for common good
were the law of the land.
This “before time” also challenged them.
Beggars appeared at freeway ramps,
signs pleading for spare change,
but the people drove by and the people
lived their lives, worked, ate, drank,
slept with dreams untroubled
by the world at their doorsteps.
Now, their homeland no longer exists.
In its place, a winnowing world
where food is not guaranteed,
where they must learn survival
without grocery stores, without
all they were accustomed to.
Still, the parishioners assemble,
cluster loosely at the rusted stairs.
A leader appears, wearing
a torn burgundy backpack,
clothed in shades of dust-gray,
clerical collar barely lighte
than his tattered shirt.
The people come with water bottles,
empty cups; one with an old pot,
as each accepts
cool liquid from the water supply.
One by one, they follow him,
ascend steps circling slowly skyward
latched on the outside of the tower,
holding tight to rails
while they climb.
The water tower, their chapel,
the only structure left standing,
is surrounded by rubble
that once formed a city.
At the top, he turns,
unzips the backpack,
begins the ancient rite,
confessing sins that brought
their nation to this place.
Survivors release guilt, praying,
their alleluias echoing down the helix
as he offers them scavenged bread.
They eat, and sip their water,
body and blood of their Lord,
blessed in a sacrament
they remember from better times.
Sharon Mishler Fox, a Knoxville, TN resident, minored in creative writing at the University of Pittsburgh. She has worked in marketing/journalism in five states, and coordinates a poetry group for the Knoxville Writers’ Guild. Her publication credits include Tennessee Voices; The Skinny Poetry Journal; Fresh Breath, the anthology of Poetry Society of TN Northeast; and in Writers of Grace anthology, In God’s Hand. Work is also forthcoming in the Nasty Woman & Bad Hombre Anthology by Lascaux Editions.
Editor’s Note: Perhaps the only hope in a post apocalyptic world are the religious symbols of the past—sadly, the ones that were not taken seriously. The image of Ulm Cathedral in Münster, German (Hans Braxmeier) against that ominous sky often captured in sunset photographs creates the mood to complement the poem.