It is a place
where I retreat for a day or two
when the world is too much with me,
when I am the bull pinned at the edge of the ring
with four banderillas tearing shoulder blade from soul.
It is quiet except for when the five bells
tumble wildly through the bell tower—
high, low, loud, soft—
marking the hours of the day
and the passing of the Bogue Falaya
that catches petitions like Buddhist prayer flags,
running them into the lake
and whatever lies beyond the scope of water.
I walk down dirt roads and fire lanes,
thinking of the morning shadows I cast
when I was seventeen
and full of fire and heavenly hope,
unconcerned with roads not taken.
Life was, after all, low-hanging fruit.
The pines still whisper lauds and vigils,
vespers and compline, praying in tongues
according to the consecration of their tap
never impaling so much as a white cloud
with their green satin needles.
They have their vocation as I have mine.
I shall return years from now
to the dirt and bells and the stream.
In the back is an acre of land
where crosses cast long shadows before sundown.