Hayden's Ferry Review

In the Manner of the Church

By: Matthew Kilbane  

Having auditioned for both Nothing

But Treble and The Obertones, our alma mater’s

premier a cappella troupes, you chose

    to lend voice finally to the less-lauded

Acapelicans. Hours of arduous practice—I read

    poems on the bed while you posed

at the mirror climbing chromatics, essaying

on repeat the trickier parts for the show

    at Fairchild Chapel, which I didn’t fail

to remind you had been built by Perfectionists,

    those old-time theologians holding fast

to the possibility that one might attain perfection

in this life too, and sinless enter heaven

    ahead of the curve.

                                   But the possible,

I added, aping Creeley, is more important

    than the perfect. The night of the show

two rococo candelabras beat back

the stone-dark of the sanctuary, which flushed

    and jittered as you took the altar.

Seated center in the front row I froze though

    when you—no better way to put it—

ceded all ego to that soprano part. I took it

     as the last word in lyric; if all

I could offer you, ever, was needless

instrument, a slack and muddying rhythm track,

    it’s proof of some perfect I cleave to still

that neither of us much minded

    my playing along.