I wish I had some better photographs of Christ Church, where my father was a minister for well over 30 years, on my computer. It's a beautiful church and I particularly like the archways. That's why I picked this photograph amongst the ones online at the Church website. Sometime, I'll scan some better photographs I have or maybe scan the "angels in waiting" a painting my father did of the christmas pageant angels waiting in the courtyard. I don't have the painting, my brother has that, but I have a good print of it. My Dad captured the stone in the church and the angels quite well in that painting. One of the angels had her finger up her nose and he said that one reminded him of me. What got me thinking about the church is my daughter sent me some of her poetry. I generally protect her privacy but since she has posted these poems on her web site, I think it's okay for me to post the ones she wrote about my father and christ church, and grief. In general I think when she has posted something or given a public speech, etc. I can share them with friends and family without infringing on her privacy. The poems below are by my daughter (J.A.F.).
He died from heart problems,
Or at least that's the short version.
I find it ironic, really.
He had a big heart.
A huge heart.
Everything I ever needed to know
I learned from him.
How can such a generous heart
Just stop beating?
On Ginia and Mourning
You aren't allowed to mourn, she said,
As we gained the path of dirt and rock.
His life was good, and decades long,
His death cannot have been a shock.
I recoil, in doubt and rage.
You don't know how I felt, I say.
You don't know how I feel, she laughs,
And we both go our separate ways.
It's not like he was a child, she says,
As the bus returns down the same road.
Yes, but he was dear to me,
And now my heart is growing cold.
She laughs, and the sound is bitter still,
Why can't she simply understand?
He was my Grandpa, don't you know?
How much I long to hold his hand?
How much I wish I had him back
To play our cards and drink our tea,
He may not have been a victim or child,
But his spirit, it was young to me.
Remembering Christ Church
they've held me now
and your breath
down my back
sent away night air
that had me shaking
in the unlit anglican
—Viggo Mortensen, "Communion"
My Anglican doorway has a heavy wooden door, that sits in its frame and creaks loudly
whenever someone interrupts the service.
My Anglican church has stained glass portraits, forbidding, distant and cold.
My Anglican life is a memory, revisited once, flagstones under sneakers and the familiar
swing of a black iron gate, through the landscaping, past the parish hall and
inside the church.
The cool chamber echoes, reverberates, reminds.
There is a hymn there, just on the tip of the proverbial tongue, just there, a childhood.
White choir robes with their black collars, over the Sunday dress, over the pattern of
Christmas fruits and pine needles, over the itchy white batting and the thick white
stockings that matched the bright crimson flats (my "Dorothy shoes," you see).
I wanted a solo so badly,
I wanted to sing the soprano part.
Six years old never sees the value of the harmony,
Six years old only internalizes the plunk and groan of the organ,
the steady cadence of Grandpa's voice,
and a memory lost.
It isn't real.
It is only a pretty illusion.
Something about lambs and constanata and I only remember the taste of the sandwiches
as they laid Grandpa's body in the warm, living ground.
I only remember
that I didn't feel warm and living at all that day.
Your daughter's verse about her grandfather was touching...
I enjoyed your memories and photos about your Dad's parish. I'm a cradle Episcopalian as are both my daughters. We drag our husbands along with us!!
Let's see, North Carolina native, father is Episcopal priest...no wonder you admire the work of Gail Godwin!
Carver, I love the photo of the archway. I'm always attracted to photos and other artwork of doorways, gateways, windows... Not sure why. Perhaps it is the light that always penetrates through them. Hey, I'm Episcopalian too! Can't wait to meet you in a few weeks. No, wait... did you say you aren't coming to Dallas after all? If so, I am truly bummed.
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