is in the thorn tree, and it is hard
to kick against the priest in this time
of drought, of diminished temptation.

Silently, my father drives the miles;
we share a pew—stand, sit, kneel.
There are no words for the gully
of emptiness between us.

There is only the pain, the scalding
of the boiled water he poured over
bodies (the neighbor boy’s and mine,
wrapped on my bare mattress).

He preaches conservation,
but I wouldn’t trade these burns
for thousands of green stalks.