from ‘Easter’ by Galway Kinnell




To get to church you have to cross the river,

First breadwinner for the town, its wide

Mud-colored currents cleansing forever

The swill-making villages at its side.

The disinfected voice of the minister

For a moment is one of the clues,

But he is talking of nothing but Easter,

Dying so on the wood, He rose.

Some of us daydream of the morning news,

Some of us lament we rose at all,

A child beside me comforts her doll,

We are dying on the hard wood of the pews.

Death is everywhere, in the extensive

Sermon, the outcry of the inaudible

Prayer, the nickels, the dimes the poor give,

And outside, at last, in the gusts of April.

Upon the river, its Walden calm,

With wire hooks the little boats are fishing.

Those who can wait to get home

Line up, lean on the railing, wishing.

. . . .

—Galway Kinnell, from “The Avenue Bearing the Initial of Christ into the New World: Poems 1953 – 1964”