Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.” I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”
The Evangelical Free Church of America held its national conference on the Messiah College campus in Pennsylvania in June of 1983. I don’t remember any of the business or the resolutions, but they were all duly recorded elsewhere. It is my part to record this:
Messiah College Campus, June, 1983
Imagine the place:
Rolling hills of Southern Pennsylvania,
Yellow Breeches Creek cutting through them.
It must have earned its name a ways upstream,
For here it is a river in its own right,
A hundred feet across, three deep,
With just a hint of mountain songs it sings
No doubt as a creek that’s worthy of the name.
Soon it will flow into the Juniata.
Here it makes its way beneath the footbridge
That swings across it and the covered bridge
For cars that is just visible upstream.
It’s early evening, maybe half past nine.
The muted voices of stream and leaf serve only
To accentuate the silence. Even the creaking
Footbridge cables hardly can do more
Than that. The moon stands directly over
The covered bridge, trees with lifted branches
Forming a lane to the sky. In the distance,
Not visible itself beyond the car bridge,
A campfire sends its flames lightly skipping
Toward you down the water like small stones
That do not sink: paths of gold on the water,
The moon doing the same thing in silver.
The stars are hidden in the lingering summer
Haze; lightning bugs take their places.
The eyes find more light in the growing darkness,
Shining from more metals in the water:
Dark iron lies along the sides,
Lurking in the shadows of the trees;
In the center, open to the sky,
Mercury; these deep, the gold and silver
Upon the surface, light that’s born on waves,
Pulling apart, moving under your feet,
Always coming on but never arriving,
Always breaking up but never quite
Destroyed or lost. A screech-owl’s rasping brings
The taste of metal up into your mouth
And cancels instantly the muggy heat.
This is cold steel! It tears the air again,
Then through that opening pours the breeze that speaks
Of thunderstorms. The lightning tears the air,
Reminding you time has not truly stopped
(Though you would swear it paused, if only briefly),
And you remember you are wanted elsewhere,
And you remember that this too is gold.
Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.
Donald T. Williams, PhD