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Last Night at the Warren

Spring is coming to Tennessee.

I made it home in time last night after band rehearsal to sit on an old bench in the woods behind my house and write for a spell, something that hasn’t happened for too long.

I’ve been writing on the laptop so much lately that I’ve forgotten how good it is to feel the scratch of pen on paper, the rhythm of making the forms of letters and words rather than just pounding them out on a keyboard.

Here’s what came out.

 

I.

Music filled the room just an hour ago.

Five men, all bound by common purposes,

Common needs, thinking, expressing a felt

Remembrance, for a time, of the heart’s leap

That led us to commune with the Maker

By making; we became younger, older,

The moment expanding to encompass

The wider, deeper world of which we sang.

 

II.

Now, after a short drive through smoke and noise,

I am sitting on a wooden bench, hushed

In the last light of the day, in silence

That fades, as I wait, into another

Kind of music: the sound of birds calling,

Brown leafless branches clicking together

When a bird leaps and flaps away to nest

Before a dark, long, and heavy silence

Takes its place over and among the woods.

 

III.

Can God be known here? Here in this wild place

hemmed by highways, stitched with black powerlines,

Defying what they call “development”

And “progress” as the wet green fungus sighs

Over exposed bedrock; as bright new grass

In tufts comes out of sleep and crowds the path

I cut through the brambles? This place is mine

And it is not mine. It is mine because

My name is on the deed. It is not mine

Because a bank’s name is there beside it.

Mine because I have loved it, if only

For a year now, and yet not mine because

I did not, could not, make it, can’t keep it

Alive or kill it, because it is ancient

And it is a part of an earth that will

Outlive me as I now live. A day comes

When I too will be ancient and holy,

And this wild place, redeemed, will sing with me.

It will belong, I will belong, fully,

Joyfully, to him who set us both free.

The earth is the Lord’s, and all within it.

 

IV.

The resurrection and the life. Christ, whose

Mind imagined and made the ground where now

I sit, is as alive as the frogs chirping,

Welcoming the night, singing in this way

Because they were made to make this music.

The birds answer. The silence answers too:

I find myself sinking down into it,

Welcoming it, glad to have a good place

To sit, watch, listen, and to remember

My place in the world, the woods, in my home.

The sound of my eldest son’s voice calling

“Papa!” echoes through the cedars and oaks.

“Time for dinner!” I turn, and can see light,

Yellow in the warm windows, a glow that,

Set against the blue dimness of nightfall,

Makes me think of Heaven, and the best tales.

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