The Altar
by Ellen Bihler

The altar fills with white chalk
and the inner workings
of desire.
Approaching marauders
are distracted by the squawking
of caged birds on Main Street.

How many children
swim in the undercurrents
you make from whispers?

Ice cream drips onto white chins,
adds pigment to open hands.
Your silver-tongued spies
know the flavor
of immortality.

Prayers rise up
to fill the room.
Like the undertaker's son,
you can't smell the stench
of so much regret.

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