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Poetry

I chanted Lord’s river during Matins. The psalmist had written Lord’s forever.
My mistake, of course, but I like my version better.
Christ’s body of skinny, flowing, noisy water reminds me

of the creek behind our house in Virginia. I felt him, playing as a boy in the woods.
My brothers and I built forts, caught crawdads under the cold rocks,
and checked our groundhog traps. We knew they were always empty.
I once took a girl down to the river to play—not pray.

The first, only, and last deer I will ever kill
stumbled toward the Smith River before it collapsed.
Dad and Papa met me by the water. We took the last photograph of him
before he died in two months’ time. Death brought the Lord by the water that day.

One summer in college, Dad and I fly-fished on a stream in Woolwine.
The afternoon was one of the few times we’ve been alone.
I can’t recall if we landed any trout, but it doesn’t matter.
He’s the closest to a saint I’ve ever known.

And today as I screw up the psalm, a barge breaks ice on the Hudson
outside the cloister walls.
Blue saturates the morning as we breathe the next psalm—
Praises of God in their throats.


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