Kyrie, Eléison – a poem by J.V. Sumpter

Kyrie, Eléison

A prize-winning organ player, young
and going deaf,
clicks a “borrowed” key
in the cathedral’s side-door lock.

She takes a breath.

It hums out through the silver pipes
peeping through their cabinet jail.

She finds the organ bench and sits.
She lifts her feet and hands above the instrument,
then throws herself at sound,
a bird flying at a window.

Meanwhile, the pretty-colored saints
stuck piece by piece in glass
turn up their eyes and palms to heaven
and pray for real,
for once.

Come thou, animating breath of God;
empower us to raise our arms
to cover and protect our ears!

But their tongueless prayers
will not be heard tonight.

The organ player, young
and losing faith,
has tears now flying freely out.
She knows how bad she plays—can feel

the thunder of her notes colliding
in her chest, can hear
though faintly, and plays

and harder and harder and harder,
the angry drunk of her song
swinging wildly at the air.

J.V. Sumpter recently earned her BFA from the University of Evansville. She is an assistant editor for Kelsay Books, Thera Books, and freelance clients. She received 2020 Virginia Grabill Awards in Poetry and Nonfiction, and her most recent publications are in Leading Edge Magazine, Not Deer Magazine, and New Welsh Review. Visit her on Twitter @JVSReads.

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