Better

by Kevin Sweeney

He thinks it’s only a phase, my niece said about me
and her life as a lesbian because I go to Mass every
Sunday.  I hope when I gave her a check toward
a weekend with her partner in Ogunquit she didn’t

think the gift tainted by guilt rather than lightened
by “fellow-feeling” though fellow is no reference
to the haircut that made a turnpike toll-taker say,
“Thank you, sir” for her dollar.  This morning

she talked about her job, the patient in winter
jacket and two pairs of pants at 4 AM in June
who acquiesced when she explained there was
no place to go but back to bed where he lay singing.

She laughed like those who try every day to find
a better way in the implacable world where churches
on summer nights open stained-glass windows
though no breeze arrives, where travail and time

are best demarcated by Sunday Mass and escape
weekends, not hearing the mad crooning of the lost
who don’t understand that without us
they’d be alone at the worst moments.