Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Father Oliver Herbel

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Father Oliver Herbel

Article excerpt

I was expecting a squared hat on your head,

a full beard, not that you couldn't grow one,

a flowing cassock and a stole, blood red.

I am deflated, not that I would know one

Greek Orthodox prelate from the next.

Father, instruct me in some ancient text.

I have a smidgen of Homeric Greek,

not the Koine of the latter days

which garbles Hebrew and leaves us to seek

salvation in our Tower of Babel ways.

Pheasant and salmon, I have prepared a feast,

not Corpus Christi, but let me serve as priest.

First I shall listen: the unlikely tale

of a West River cowboy heading east

to St. John Chrysostom, who without fail

leads janissary battles with the Beast.

The Great Schism came in 1054,

but Satan came to Eden long before.

Father, you're young enough to be my son.

You have sworn vows to God and your young wife

I'll never swear, but I can teach you Donne,

sonnets for coaching every man in life,

even a cowboy reared west of the river

where riding east is seeking one's forgiver,

Grandmothers Bible, or the cottonwood

that lords it over an eroded draw

where calves once gamboled, where the windmill stood

and black Conscience perches in trees to caw. …

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