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I never was

by Donald H. Baker H'57
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I never was

much of a Christian

even in Sunday school

(the brothers Robertson

praised Jesus for us all)

but now the old gray granite

Episcopal church

on Monument Road

where the town's last elms

shine glassily as ice

in the wintry sunrise

rings its silver carillon

so cheerily and well

I blink, dismayed,

my blithe irreverence awry,

think of the new black Bible

with my name stamped in gold.

the old upright piano

and my father singing,

the stained-glass lamb and dove,

the lilies at the altar,

and, before the bread and grape juice,

the Reverend Van Horn's

vague, insistent prayer

for penetential dawn,

and, idling at the traffic light,

I praise not Jesus

but the nagging symbols

cast before me here

under the icy elms,

where the old stone church

lifts its squat tower

so doggedly to God,

shakes me so severely

with a sudden iron bell,

that I, a disbeliever,

almost become again

the pale, distracted boy

who bided and believed

in the vast incarnate miracle

of all that was, is, and shall be ever.

Donald W. Baker H'57

from The Readiness: Poems from the Cape