The dim church and the odor of incense seemed to him to be quite wonderful, a sort of darkened sachet for pain. Here one shook out the garments of sin and if they could not be cleansed at least they could be perfumed. He’d heard that chorus girls did something like this – used cologne water when they hadn’t time for the next curtain.
The high ceiling looked like an inverted mold to Skirl, a place where formless, terrible and ugly things were made beautiful. He crossed himself thinking about this and his trouble, looking around a little furtively with his yellow eyes set in pale form wrinkles, like new flowers.
He could see the altar far away at the end of his supplication, its two incense burners sending up slow thin threads of scented smoke on either side of the scarlet figure of the priest.
Skirl Pavel looked into this distance, thinking how much this altar resembled a dressing table – a dressing table for the soul – and that scarlet priest like a lovely red autumn leaf blown up against that polished thing of wood, with its great open Bible. He moved like a leaf too, here, there, as if he were trying to play a song and couldn’t find the tune.
— Djuna Barnes, ‘Renunciation’