“Old Presbyterians”

Old Presbyterians

The rusted creak of Presbyterian hinges,

stepping into a deserted church building, now cobwebbed;

once founded in 1829; wounded in the war–the first fruits blighted;

balcony emptied; widowed, orphaned, graying with age,

holding out against the heresy of time; now congregated no more–

passed on–scattered, forgotten, on a few hillsides.

but the ark, rotting and resting, still at this Ararat.

Here alone, I enter and step back a dozen decades–

feeling the cold November Sabbath chill,

the ache of the hard, lonely benches,

rough walls echoing the intoned doctrines

given and driven in stern commands–catechized, confessed,

amened and amened, then reinforced and sung in agonizing tones,

interspersed with dreary consolations.

Still able to hear that hard cry to heaven–

feeling the elder’s piercing stare, seeing the deacon’s disdaining nod–

the pain of a faith of now dead people.

Stepping back out, squinting at the light of sun,

thawing again in our age of warmth,

returning to our modern climb to Nothing:

A technological, well-analyzed soul–lacking everything.


From Dirt Roads and Confederates


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