Two youths reciting their catechism in the parish church.
The old priest on his knees; their knife at his throat.
‘It was like a sermon around the altar in Arabic’,
Recalls the nun from Rouen who got away.
‘The horror,’ she went on to say,
The priest ‘given the knife’ as she ran for her life.
Teenagers infused with what they claim is righteous anger –
Even if one of them is flinching from the camera-eye throughout his video manifesto,
Praying that the blood of this holy relic of a man will give them a new lease on life.
Did he have to die to release them from boredom?
Deliver them from nothing in particular – that is,
From the fact that they are nothing in particular?
If only they had managed to look up at the gory scene already
Taking place only a few feet above the tableau they created.
Family and a few friends gathered round the busted body of Jesus,
Suspended in time, extended for all to see. Hands nailed, legs broken,
Close to the drawn-out climax of his public execution.
(Crucifixion: the first thing you learn is you always have to wait.)
The one set higher than the other; though on different planes,
As rituals these two seem much the same. Again, seeking to
Substantiate themselves our two teenagers set about slaughtering an old man
Who repeatedly drank the blood of his own Saviour during more than half a century in Holy Orders –
That elevated state which allowed him to transubstantiate.
Unable to ‘do this in remembrance of me’,
Perhaps they do it because they have no remembrance.
Traditional, ritual enactment of life and death,
Describing the self-serving alongside selfless sacrifice,
Reference points for the elevation of everyday life,
Tried and tested ways of moving beyond the banal,
They don’t get it; they just don’t get it.
Mythically myopic, illiterate when it comes to metaphor,
The literal is the only way they know;
Hence reinventing the wheel instead of reiterating it,
Doing ritual for real rather than miming – perhaps.
And tragedy sweeps down on another French town.