Hanging quilt and the gazes of the carved half-dozen prows of ships and this preacher, upright and upholding the opened and planed smooth Word of God in his lap, he fixes his hollowed eyes past the book, on a particular point of sight, devotional turn for the wooden minds in his care. Or recollects a work song from before the war and feels its hum in his brow and high cheeks that betray the grain of southern white pine, deep gouges of chisel and time. I am praying to him now, that the split in his spine will hold. That like his arms blessed tight to his trunk, he will keep his own counsel until the Spirit fires him alive as the free hand and eye of the vernacular maker whose sermon he is.
And conjectures, and offers a few ways to take down the body, the God who carries a taste for blood. On the altar, before him, an empty simple cross, and a purple bouquet, one of which, he doesn’t say, was arranged, and one which happened, he knows, against serious, best judgment—
the way you might extend a hand to an enemy, suspecting the risk, knowing better but offering and retracting your bared palm over time like a bud or a bloom opening to a violet spring sky.
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