The church sustains its tired lean sconces.
I sit on the left by a partition.
It is Sunday. Infinite rest. A slow-footed man with suspenders
maneuvers his frame to the scratched pew
in front of me. His patience to crease into it. Pauses.
I watch the back of his husked body.
Wheat-hued paper is stuck above wainscot.
The room reveals in scales of solemn
sung awe. The collared Lutheran pastor is precise
on the Gospels and during the sermon unfolds
his gaze on each row. For an hour we’re scored
from the liminal space of our burdens.
We make repairs within each heart
of each line of the hymnal, listening for something
more easily named. How long it takes to awaken.
A harp offers its tracts and plucks.
At last, the pastor raises his arms like a goalpost
from the dais and, intending to arrest
any guilt and ghosts, recites a bandaging benediction.
A wide well of amens. Our voices swan
and mist, holding the word to the roof
of our mouths. Leaving the church, the sea-skinned air
asserts its cold. I look up at the blue, at the inside
of the mind: a sort of eternity, wavering all around.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.