I’ve heard they placed a brick up-
on a brick, each act a measure
of their faith and settled mind. At
Merchant’s Hope for us the crumbling
brick and perfect lunette bring to
mind a lighted, purer past,
made simple by the lack of that
we see encumbering our lives.
That it’s a church seems more to show,
in the closers and studied arch,
leaning always eastward, as they
had compasses and hearts to use them,
faith had every day its light,
yellowed perhaps, and on some days
too cold for even firm flesh
to feel, but always on the lintel,
and sang again at dawn and dusk.
Would they change, if given it,
the idea of faith in a simpler flesh
for the impediments of Godless time?
Do these cushions and the central air
make the round of love the less,
belief the more ambiguous,
and every miracle so common?
Or, removed by centuries and
all the busyness in every day,
do we esteem them not real flesh,
forgetting in ourselves their faults,
who shared our bread, had slaves, looked
at a neighbor’s wife with calm intent,
and bastardized the land for gain?
At least we feel all peace is here,
Among the tracing arch and fallow dead.
By David King
A poem from Virginia Churches, a series of 8 poems on colonial churches.
Copyright 2004 by David King.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry 360 with permission of the author.