Great Cathedrals
Before a date, my college roommate Used to drive his candy-apple red Camaro Down to the car wash and spend the afternoon Washing, waxing, vacuuming it, Detailing the chrome strips, buffing the fenders, Spraying the big expensive tires With their raised white lettering That said something like Intruder Or Marauder, with a silicone spray Until they were slick and dark as sex. He polished that car as if each caress, Each pass of the chamois, each loving Stroke of the terry cloth would increase, By measurable degrees, The likelihood that in the immaculate Front seat, with its film of freshly applied Vinyl cleaner, at the end of a cul-de-sac Somewhere above the campus, She would consent to be rubbed And buffed just as lovingly. We do what we can, And if God is no more impressed By the cathedral at Chartres Than by a righteously clean and cherry Camaro, at least He can't say We haven't tried With all our might to conceal our fear That we have little else to offer Than stained glass or polished chrome, The elbow grease of our good intentions. So I'm happy to see That in the Christmas card photo he sent Mark stands, balding now, With a dignified gut, a pretty wife, And a couple of nice-looking kids, in front Of the great cathedral Like the sweet vision of a future He'd been vouchsafed one day Long ago, through Turtle Wax On a gleaming hubcap. George Bilgere