DEDICATIONS, PLEDGES, COMMITMENTS. For the past. For my own path. For surprises. For mistakes that worked so well. For tomorrow if I'm there. For the next real thing. Then for carrying it all through whatever is necessary. For following the little god who speaks only to me. --William Stafford

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Pentecostals, 1948


Week after week
they climbed their six splintered
pentecostal stairs to dance
like wonderful trained
bears, climbing, falling,
singing, their hands that ordinarily
held books or washed babies
or sometimes counted out money
to pay the milkman,
clapping,

clapping joy
as if they held tambourines,
laughing, their eyes lit
with some inner glory like a fire:

Oh holy, holy, they sang
and tossed their heads to a strong
upbeat rhythm. Oh brother, oh sister,
Oh holy, their housekeys jangling
in their pockets, their coins jingling
as the plate was passed.

What would I have dropped
that summer night--absolved--into their plate
as they danced, howling their songs
holy, and more holy, like a circus troupe,
but my ignorance, an offering of
my two dazed eyes,
my pious, stunned tongue,
my baseball,
my cap pistol and a red roll of caps,
a white Life Saver, and
four glass black marbles still warm
from my hand?

Outside
under the glass-black sky and looking in
at their window, it was awesome,
and I wished I knew the words.

3 comments:

Shadowrite said...

This was an absolutely powerful stanza:

What would I have dropped
that summer night--absolved--into their plate
as they danced, howling their songs
holy, and more holy, like a circus troupe,
but my ignorance, an offering of
my two dazed eyes,
my pious, stunned tongue,
my baseball,
my cap pistol and a red roll of caps,
a white Life Saver, and
four glass black marbles still warm
from my hand?


Wonderful!

Clifford Duffy said...

"Outside
under the glass-black sky and looking in
at their window, it was awesome,
and I wished I knew the words. "
Just found your blog by way of bloghopping & these lines of the last stanza, jumped out at me. and the title and ...

jillypoet said...

What an amaing poem! Your language is as lively as the meeting! I love your details. And everything everyone else said! PS: Thaks for your kind kind words on my blog!

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1. In dreams I am often young and thin with long blond hair. 2. In real life I am no longer young, or thin, or blonde. 3. My back hurts. 4. I hate to sleep alone. (Fortunately I don't have to!) 5. My great grandfather had 2 wives at once. 6. I wish I had more self-discipline. (I was once fired from a teaching position in a private school because they said I was "too unstructured and undisciplined." --Who, me??? Naaaahhh....) 7. I do not blame my parents for this. Once, at a parent-teacher conference, the teacher told me my little boy was "spacey." We ALL are, I told her. The whole fan damily is spacey. She thought I was kidding. I wasn't. 8. I used to travel with a theater reperatory company. My parents weren't happy about this. 9. My mother was afraid that I would run off and paint flowers on my cheeks and live in a commune, and grow vegetables. I once smoked pot. ONE TIME. 10. I don't drink or smoke. (Or swear, much. Well, I drink milk, and water, and orange juice, and stuff. Cocoa. I love Pepsi.) 11. Most of my friends are invisible. 12. I am a poet and a writer. All of my writing on these pages is copyrighted. Borrowing (without acknowledgment) is a sin.