A White Tent Goes Up by Sarah Venart

Poem title: A White Tent Goes Up Poet name: Sarah Venart Poem: What brings me to the empty pasture across from the tomb they use when the ground’s too cold to dig? It isn’t the wooden poles’ creak where joined at an apex or the sun pushed into white canvas or the women fanning their skirts against their shame. I’m pushed by a crowd of other children into an aisle, I feel too much skin on the cold metal seat of a folding chair. By the pulpit, Carter Bagley floats smugly behind the drum kit. And in her slippery blouse, training bra visible on shoulder bones, Paula says, I feel the Spirit. Someone shouts, Amen.  Which weighs more, dead body frozen or unfrozen? It’s the kind of question I want answered. Yesterday, my father sent me to collect docked lambs’ tails in the clover. Five cents a tail. The weight of them collected in my plastic bread bag. What did you do for currency in your father’s eyes? Bread into fishes, bread into wine, what’s revelation is the first time I bear witness to the lamb still inside its pink sac, swinging like wet grey rope from the vulva of the ewe. Revelation is this lamb transforming with apricots into stew on rice. Revelation is clotted cream churning to butter, cheese hanging in its cloth on the doorknob, the streams of yellow whey. I haven’t heard much from the preacher, but the sweat on his cheeks is pure biology. I cannot lie: I’m scared I’ll feel you, Spirit. So show yourself to me. End of poem. Credits and bio: Copyright © Sarah Venart  Previously published in I AM THE BIG HEART (Brick Books, 2020)  Sarah Venart’s poetry has been published in Numero Cinq, Concrete and River, The New Quarterly, The Malahat Review, The Fiddlehead, This Magazine, Prism International, and on CBC Radio. She is the author of Woodshedding (Brick Books, 2007) and Neither Apple Nor Pear. Sarah lives in Montreal and teaches writing at John Abbott College.