The true church never died,
I have found a sect ancient beyond ancestry:
itinerant priestesses in ramshackle booths
who listen through gauzy walls
and tally your actions.
In a tiny city stacked on terraces
the citizens come each morning to confess,
divulging their blessings as well as their sins.
Absolution and indulgences
cost the same copper coin.
Holy mothers and sisters and daughters
deal out acts of contrition like cards
to make the penitent sweat out
every shameful thing sucking at their souls
clamped on like lampreys.
or they dole out states of grace-
to reward the generous and joyous;
three-day passes to let them slip
the leash of duty for a while.
Never let them find you
sloughing off your penance
or stinting on your gusto.
They will find out
and they will tell everyone.
From lowest to highest, every citizen
in a tiny city stacked on terraces
starts their day feeling
calm and confident,
clean slate gleaming.
Even their deepest history
records no wars.