Poetic interlude

We interrupt our regular programming for this poetic interlude.

 

JOHN HENRY GOES TO CHURCH

 

Dawn had come hardly seen

Above the heavy fog filling the valley,

Above the clouds covering the ridgetop,

The world around translucent to any eye.

John Henry stepped out his door

To greet the day and orient himself

As to his place in nature.

His memory of space, the mountain’s shadow

Through the gloom, and the creek’s

Delicate silvery echoes sounding the way

Told him again, somehow never redundant,

Never commonplace or stale, all he needed to know

For now.

Closing the door behind him

He started down the valley along the creek,

Skirting marshlands and pausing to watch

A wild turkey lumber into the air

Across the water into the woods and fog

At the mountain’s base, a fearful fury

Of feathers struggling to safety, then all quiet,

All hidden, and he resumed his trail to church.

 

A light breeze thinned the fog

As it carried the sound ringing

From the small cast iron bell

Summoning the hearing to gather and meet

This sabbath before Beltane.

John Henry heard the call

And the conversational murmur

Of neighbors greeting each other,

Then saw the whitewashed stones

Lining the path from creek trail

To the whitewashed clapboard church

Built a generation ago

And he entered the open door

Nodding to greet each one.

 

Inside he listened and could not help

Wondering about the past.

Not just what they ate but how did they cook it?

Whose recipe did they use?

Not just what they drank but what grapes and yeast

Did they use for the wine?

Who made the table and chairs? By what method?

How old was the room, for he assumed that

It was not new? Was there a window with a view?

Being John Henry he wondered at the weight

Of the hammer used to drive the nails

And did they reuse the nails like he did

Or were the authorities rich enough,

And of course they were, to pay

A blacksmith for new ones to waste each time.

Buried in a stone crypt, yes,

But how were the walls shaped and painted

And what shadows flickered there in the rushlight?

What of the mice that stole the dead’s gift of grain

Back to their nest, leaving their droppings in the dust?

He wondered this and more even during the hymns,

Even during the last doxology, even as he left

Nodding his goodbyes until he saw the new sign

At the end of the white stoned path, “For Sale.”

 

Homeward the fog lifted though

The creek bed still breathed

With damp chill air. Above

The clouds rested more lightly on the mountain top

And the sunlight filtering through

Gently, informally promised

A warm spring day. Back home

He fed and banked his fire

Against the cold night to come,

Grasped his hammer, feeling its heft

For work the next day, knowing it too heavy

For driving mere nails, and planned next Sunday

To walk up the valley along the creek

To see its headwaters at Copernican Spring

Named long ago also before memory began.

Clyde Evely

2016

 

and that concludes the interlude.  We now return to our regular programming.  Coming soon:  Re-read 4.0  Susanne Langer on Music, or How returning home feels so wondrous.

P.S.  Here in a high mountain valley in SW Virginia we have >10″ snow.

snowmeadow.jpg

 

 

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