The gloom of St. Dolores' basilica. This is your thirtieth wedding anniversary. Jan's on the other side of the nave. This is the Mission District of San Francisco. Named for this mission, for Mission Dolores. Dolores. Meaning sad. Jan wanted to see it. You didn't. You're no longer attracted by the Catholic religion. You no longer enter churches. You no longer light candles. You no longer pray for the dead. The dead you will have always with you. The dead are with Jan. Jan ordered cabinets with glass doors. Jan needs to see what the dead belong to. Her mother and father. Her grandmother and grandfather. Her aunties. Jan has plates and cups and saucers and unopened bottles of Jack Daniels whiskey. Jan has forks and spoons and can openers. Jan has party glasses and cake knives. Jan has marbles and matchbooks and ballpoint pens. Aspirin tins. Coins. Sealed packages of cigarettes. Unopened cans and bottles of beer. Each is a prayer for the dead. The dead are not memories. The dead belong to your napkin holders and to your bread box. The candles in the transept are words of love. Like please. Like Father. God is Father. Creator of the earth and the heavens. His spirit coming upon the waters. His angels coming from heaven to the ladder. It's past noon. You're hungry. You find Jan near the vestibule. Jan asks you if you know where the poor box is. You tell Jan you were looking for the poor box. You weren't looking for the poor box. You were listening to prayer candles gutter in the dolorous gloom. Sorrow and pity and mercy. Going up in smoke. You shove a ten-dollar bill through the square hole. At lunch, you tell Jan you've always loved her. It's noisy in this restaurant on Guerrero. Jan asks if you'd like to look at motorcycles. Isn't Munroe Motors near here? Your sandwiches arrive. Bacon and avocado. And ice tea. In August, Jan will turn sixty. You would.
Marc Petersen’s has appeared in The Georgia Review, in The Sun, in The Alaska Quarterly Review, in The Reed, in The Nebraska Review, in Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry, edited by Billy Collins, in Fogged Clarity, in The Black Dirt Review.