Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Little White Church

Little White Church
               Eaton, NH, 1879

Us Free Will Baptists walked a thin tightwire,
a springing path out over the abyss.
We knew how a sudden April desire to dance
can topple you head over heels into the fire.

We knew how warmth exuded by a youth
singing at prayer meeting in a nearby seat
and inhaled deeply can inebriate
you to the point of renouncing the truth.

We lived repent-now-before-it's-too-late.
We didn't believe God forgives you, once and for all.
We knew how you can just turn around and fall,
of your own free will, how easy it is to doubt.

But there's no Free Willers left around this place
since the Phelps boy come back from Harvard talking 
   about Grace.

Marilyn Nelson is a newly elected Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. She is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including Faster Than Light (Louisiana State University Press, 2012).

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