One afternoon in April 2012 the two of us—Sue Schardt and I—visited Mission Church in Roxbury, Mass. We were surprised it was open for a noon Mass during the pandemic. There was hardly anyone there in any case and yellow ribbons marked off safe sections from empty pews. It was here, decades before that I formally became Catholic with the poet Jean Valentine as my sponsor beside me. Now Sue noticed a man in the back holding a flute. Throughout the liturgy he played on it, improvising subtly. softly. When Mass ended, a few people drifted to the side nave, dedicated to a 15th century ikon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. They prayed the rosary, which is the sound of voices on this recording. This experience became the first of a few that followed through visits to Mission and the Stations of the Cross, and the completion of my book Manimal Woe. All seemed of a piece and improvised coincidental.
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Fanny Howe and Sue Schardt