THE ART OF INTELLIGENCE: Confession, Berlin, 1981.

Since its creation in 1947 the Central Intelligence Agency has held the responsibility of providing our Federal Government information to sustain our country’s safety and well being. With such a vital role, it seems astounding that the agency along with other intelligence groups in our government are essentially made up of just a handful of operatives, ordinary people. These folks must be highly intelligent with a shrewdness to ensure their survival and the protection of American secrets. Their successes must be clandestine and their thoughts concealed— well mostly. It often comes as a surprise (though why should it) that these brilliant few are often artists, painters, writers and poets. And they have stories to tell.

As part of our “Art of Intelligence” series we have been collecting poems, prose, art and more from former intelligence officers. The following poem is written by John W. Davis an Intelligence Officer with the US Army. The accompanying artwork is by his son, Marty Davis. 
 
 
Confession, Berlin, 1981
 
This street is my secret cathedral; its apartment blocks the rows of saints on either side.
They stand silent sentinels under moonlight; only raindrops mumble orations on street and rooftops.
Streetlamps waver in the mist. No acolyte makes a move. It is quiet here, but for the prayer on my umbrella. 
Ahead, only a gloomy green glow lights where the altar should be: a marquee over a theater at the end of the block.
 
I make the sign of a cross on the streetlamp at the corner, which my unknown recipient will see and keep walking.
He comes to make confession, but we cannot meet here. Not now.
I am the priest of this secret cathedral, and we will meet a half hour from now, but not at this lamp. He knows that.
I walk a directionless oratory in case adversaries of my secret confessional are watching. 
They are always watching, we are taught to believe.
 
In time he passes under the marquee, and pauses in odd genuflection. I wait for him there.
"It always rains in Prague on a Saturday night," he says as if in private prayer, his eyes hidden under an umbrella and hat. He looks away, as if to God out there.
"Stay here out of the rain. The bus doesn't come for another fifteen minutes, if you are looking for it," I comment, to let him know we are alone in this strange confessional.
"No, I only have a short walk," he responds to my invocation. Our opening prayer concluded, I am sure he is my expected one. 
We stand side by side.  He speaks. I listen and nod. 
The confession over, I stand alone as he makes his recessional into the fog.  

 

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