Churching

I was sitting in the local nave with nothing on my mind,
When I heard a hassock shifting. It was in the pew behind.
The sound of nylons kneeling, and the crackle of a psalter -
I could feel my knuckles tingling and my concentration falter.

The warm breath of a lengthy prayer was playing on my neck:
My nerves began to jingle, and I held my heart in check.
I recognised a passage from St. Paul to the Galatians,
And listening, I lost control of piety and patience.

I shut my Crockford's quickly, and I turned to face the truth:
What filled me like an incense was the perfume of her youth.
She looked like Mary Magdalene, or was it Ethel Merman?
At any rate, she helped me in the vestry with my sermon.

From the book Rime Present