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The Mark

ISSUE:  Winter 1934

People do not go there any more,
The church is full of sermons of the dust.
The sharp wasps bore the silence with small holes,
But it soon heals around them unimpaired.
The spiders left the airless window panes Years ago.
The people who breathed there Have no breathing in them now at all But lie all earth again, except for bones,
Under the grass beyond the tumbling wall.
But there is not a shingle fallen down From the roof.
The blinds hang square and true,
No staple rusts, the Winter pulls no nail But Spring will see it put back in its place.
The doorstep has not settled from the sill,
No woodchuck’s burrow lets the weather in Beneath the walls.
The church is white as milk Or daisies just sprung open on the hills,
The spire shines upon the sky like new.
The men would let their high barns cry for paint Before they would begrudge the church its due,
They would no more allow the church’s blinds To sag or slam than they would let the weeds Choke out the grass upon their family lots,
Or let their wives run out with other men.
They like to have a good mark when they plow To run their furrows by.
A church’s spire Is about the finest mark of all.


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