(A unique Ode to Saint Anthony Parish, Fitchburg, MA)
This dusty flower room you now see
Speak so well of history.
The treasures I found collected over the years
Left for rust or dust as if no one cares.
Was the once the original Sacristy?
Sure, what else could it be?
An old rusty ice pick like I never saw
Was left on the shelf behind the door.
I found an old black frying pan with a very long handle,
And a small, white broken up candle.
The giant rusty saw was one of the best.
How long has it sat here to rest?
Fr. Jack showed me a crack in the wall
Where once stood a door for Sicilians so small.
I found a hole in the floor
Wish I knew what it was for.
Look at these walls, white, tan and then blue.
Who painted them, when? I haven’t a clue.
Here is a table with a cabinet below.
What was it most used for? I really don’t know.
Old choir clothes hung on a rack.
I folded them into a paper white sack.
And I wonder who was the last to drink from this yellow cup,
Which I placed on a shelf kind of high up.
Look at these shelves here before pressure treated wood,
But they do their job, so they must be pretty good.
See the holes in that wall over there?
I can’t help but wonder why they were put there.
Look at this floor, first wood, then black covering, not tile.
Guess people have been walking on it for a while.
Look at this Lily cup holder to the left of the sink.
Who was the last, or even first, to use it to drink?
And I found a coat hanger from Monarch Laundry
With phone number digits two more than three.
Happy Halloween the door mirror used to say.
Today I washed it all away.
It was written in white candle wax I suppose
Who wrote it and when? I wonder who knows.
Who was Lucia Paglia 1963?
I found a plaque in her memory.
Was she once a little child, singing a nursery rhyme,
So unaware she’d be part of my poem sometime?
I found an old Windex bottle since ‘78
I threw it away because it didn’t work great.
Found an old Hallmark bag from ‘79
I threw it away even though it’s not mine.
This counter top by the window, can it really so old
If it’s make of Formica kind of whitish gold?
I found an advertisement for a Fall Fiesta, but it did not give a year.
Guess they did not know that I would stop to care.
There are so many more treasures here about which I could rhyme,
If I bothered to take the time.
This church is ninety years now.
All I can do is stare and say wow!
As I cleaned this room you now see
I became part of its history.
When it was built this room did not think of me,
of the future and what was to be?
Did anyone wonder just for a minute
In June ’98 who would clean it?
This very moment this room is quiet inside,
Where people once laughed and people once cried.
Nearly all first parishioners dead
As these thoughts dance through my head.
And who are you now reading this poem?
Has Saint Anthony’s too become your home?
What time is it? What day? What year?
Do you think of the past and future as you stand here?
(The Flower Room was a cluttered storage room in my day but, most likely served as its original sacristy when the church was first built.)