I wanted to say I have come home
to bear witness, to read the sign
emblazoned on the church marquee—
Believe the report of the Lord—
and trust that this is noble work, that
which must be done. I wanted to say I see,
not I watch. I wanted my seeing to be
a sanctuary, but what I saw was this:
in my rearview mirror, the marquee’s
other side—Face the things that confront you.
My first day back, a pilgrim, I traveled
the old neighborhood, windows up,
steering the car down streets I hadn’t seen
in years. It was Sunday. At the rebuilt church
across from my grandmother’s house,
I stepped into the vestibule and found
not a solid wall as years before, but
a new wall, glass through which I could see
the sanctuary. And so, I did not go in;
I stood there, my face against the glass,
watching. I could barely hear the organ,
the hymn they sang, but when the congregation rose,
filing out of the pews, I knew it was the call
to altar. And still, I did not enter. Outside,
as I’d lingered at the car, a man had said
You got to come in. You can’t miss the word.
I got as far as the vestibule—neither in,
nor out. The service went on. I did nothing
but watch, my face against the glass—until
someone turned, looked back: saw me.
In Verse is supported by Public Radio Makers Quest 2.0, an initiative of AIR, the Association of Independents in Radio. This project is made possible with funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and by a broadcast partnership with Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen.