In this stirring poem from Christopher Martin, the “wish to sing” is both literal and metaphoric.
The Wish to Sing with Primitive Baptists
Northbound on Old 41, I pass a church
I’ve passed for years—Blue Springs Primitive Baptist,
resting at the edge of highway and high school parking lot.
A board hangs out front, says Singing tonight.
I think how I’d like to join them, if I could, how I’d like
to take my son with me, now drifting to sleep
in his car seat behind me, how we’d both love
to sing if matters of belief were of no consequence.
It would come down to this, I know:
I do not believe in the resurrection of Christ,
in the sense that he just up and walked from the grave
only to ascend and wait to return for the world’s last war.
I do not believe in the flame that, some say, awaits sinners,
unbelievers, doubters and seekers, followers of other faiths.
I do not believe in sin or salvation, in the righteousness of the chosen,
the fallenness of creation, the inherent corruption of the world.
I believe that God is going to sleep
in the seat behind me, and that is all.
They might tell me I am wrong, eventually, once they found out.
Even so, I imagine turning my car, waiting for the evening
song, for a thousand tongues to sing in communion
with this small congregation, a remnant people
in a remnant place, losing ground.
Originally published in Town Creek Poetry, Nov. 2013
Editor’s Note: Christopher Martin has published with us before. Read his excellent “Stoneroller in the Hiawassee.”
Image Credit: muha… /Flickr
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