The Shepherds’ Feast

The Shepherds’ Feast April 22, 2021

The Pope has laid a princely feast
Upon the Church’s board;
In files each cardinal, bishop, priest,
The chosen of the Lord.
No expense spared, each place is set
With cups of gold and gem,
Napkins of silk as black as jet,
White plates of porcelain.
The joint is carved, the wine is poured
(Though the fish would not fry);

Bishop with bishop firm concord
Holds over roasted thigh.

Their charities have got them fame,
As promised in the Law.
A Virgin in a silvered frame
Smiles blind at their foie gras.
They their vexatious Church affairs
Delicately discuss:
How laws oppress, tithes are impaired,
And how the laymen fuss.
Their programs they accept and bless,
Their institutes exalt,
Sitting serene as stone grotesques,
Or statues made of salt.

The Pope rises and calls a toast:
“The body and the blood.”
The college nods; the white-clad ghost
Swallows the scarlet flood.
The tipsiest are talkative,
The sober ones are mute;
All eye each other, secretive,
While the butler serves the fruit.
Little is left of their repast
Below the Mother mild:
They licked the ribcage bright as brass,
The ribcage of a child.

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