"My teacher has come to live next door,
the stranger I least choose to be here
where we each come for our own retreat.
A tall, aging, ordained man swishes
past my window in his long, black cassock,
seemingly sure of himself
with his obsolete, unsettling beliefs.
"I hear irritating noise in the next room
where the man knows nothing of silence --
maybe of the tongue, but not of the body.
The door clangs when he leaves his room;
at 5:00 a.m. he runs water at full blast
and forcefully slams the closet doors
like an old elephant without balance.
With each noisy intrusion
sour memories rise to the surface in me.
"But it's the black robe, the white collar
announcing a presumed entitlement
that stirs up the odor of my indignation.
It's the trouncing voice of hierarchy,
in varied forms of arrogant posture,
that revisits me like musty onions
left to rot in the corner of a cupboard.
"What to do but wonder -- why now,
why here, why this -- only to surmise
it is one more graced opportunity
to rid my soul of fermented antipathy,
to dismiss the contempt that robs me
of a kinder, compassionate spirit.
"One more time I lean into the past
and release the mildewed memoires;
one more time I allow forgiveness to cleanse another bit of fetid residue."