from the Committee on Ministry and Counsel
Marilyn Churchill has been a regular Ann Arbor Meeting attender since the 1970s. The arts and imagination were a vital part of her childhood; she has written poetry since college and published a book of poetry entitled Memory Stones. As a youth, I wrote poetry—the trite, childish kind that rhymed at the end of every line. My work never evolved, nor much continued, but I enjoy reading poetry written by Friends, and Marilyn Churchill's poetry speaks to me. Perhaps you will enjoy it and reflect upon it.
~ Catherine McClary
I had no appointment.
Asked to wait half an hour,
I left the office and walked to a meadow--
or more like an abandoned farm field--
at the edge of the complex.
A solitary oak stood in the field,
reminder of the past, whatever past it knew.
The ground was soggy from rain.
I had to watch where I walked.
And what might be hiding in the tall grass?
Doubling back, I strolled west
past low buildings, parked cars,
to the end of the lot, where there still
were trees, what was left of the woods.
I leaned towards them, peering in.
At their edge, motionless, was a garter snake,
small, with yellow stripes, his head raised.
He rippled forward a little into the light,
flicked his tongue as if tasting the air
then slithered back to the deep shade
of the woods, reclaiming what was rightfully his.
That this being from the old world still persisted,
that I had come at the right moment to bear witness
buoyed me, and by this small grace,
I kept my own company happily that day.
I Want to be a Door
not a warrior.
I want to open inward yet keep intruders out.
I’ll need a knob for turning, a handle
on my own affairs. And of course a key
to lock and unlock myself.
People will knock on my hard surface.
Just now two Christian soldiers
rapped on my shoulder
and spoke into my wooden ear.
I opened a small way and heard
their muffled cries of future doom.
Then I struck them
with my dangerous notions
and they fled.
Once I might have said
I am formerly of Tree
who’s formerly of Forest--
of an arboreal tribe--
but for now it is enough to be
the weight and shape I am
with my variegated grain
making a whole, shutting out
the matter of the world
what is a door if not a bridge?
Poems reprinted with the permission of Marilyn Churchill (© 2016).