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Fall 2019: Hopewell


Everyone worships.

This Sunday your dog does too 

so long as he is polite to the terrier 

that ushers all the old people 

with white hair and trousers bearing 

the ketchup from Saturday’s potluck

to the pew that once sat my great-grandmother 

and the jack russell she could never keep 

quiet at communion. 

You pass the plate of offering

collected by the chaplain who has 

no affiliation with the Presbyterian church 

other than that the church that employs dogs as ushers 

keeps copies of the Book of Common Prayer 

and has a historic landmark sign beside Paris Pike 

that calls the building you pray in Presbyterian.

You pet the corgi your grandfather calls: Pete 

Peter, Peter Pan, Pan, Panman

so often it’s hard to know 

with certainty what your grandmother 

named him all those years ago while 

the chaplain, not actually ordained, 

proceeds on about God’s love, 

which you agree, generally, is great.

But you are waiting for something more

than word alone to help you say Amen 

as seems custom because the man with stained trousers 

by the window that looks onto the dogwood trees in blossom 

and his, what you presume to be, wife, 

and their well-fed dog who barks, 

have a habit of doing so. 

It is image you seek. 

The road absent its paving. The pasture 

opposite the stone fence uncleared 

this being western Kentucky then 

when they pulled the stone from the earth 

rubbed the dew and moss from the rock, 

shaped them to be as they needed to be 

to become this church. This too, 

this making and building up a church 

planted in the field you know could have 

raised tobacco for profit down river. Instead

to become a place of dwelling. 

Hopewell, you imagine— 

a place of worship 

with a small piano in the back

the space less hollow

than time makes it seem. 

Shouldn’t there be a cross? 

You wonder and pass on 

leading your grandmother’s 

fat dog down the road 

farther than he has walked 

maybe all his life. 

—Stephen Batchelder ’15

STEPHEN BATCHELDER was an English/religion double major at Wabash and currently teaches science at the Estrella Vista STEM Academy, where he was the 2019 Teacher of the Year. His first work for WM was “Moon Poem #4”, Spring 2016.