" I lied, Father," he said. "I lied and stole."
His eyes are downcast and his tears are hot.
His very being's tightened in a knot,
Yet as he speaks the truth about that lie
He feels a gradual lightening in his soul,
Then feels the priest's hand gentle on his thigh.

"Sergeant," the priest smiled with a saddened face,
"This lad has lied so often in the past,
But stories such as these... Well, I'm aghast..."
His priestly innocence shines out radiantly
As that day when, sixteen, he found God's grace,
And felt a bishop's fingers squeeze his knee.

That bishop (on his deathbed) can recall
Most luminously, through a spiritual haze,
So many boyish friends, so many days
Of sweet companions who all meant so much,
And his own youth too, when God's sweet love seemed all,
And a manly priest, and such a gentle touch.

Dave Tidyman

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