Winnowing out our souls

September 10, 2002
I've mowed the gladiolas down, trimmed the burberry
watered the yew. I still don't teach Sexton or Plath,
make jokes about poetry and gin, or laugh

with those who do. I know that tulips can be cold
but I've not seen them black. The walls in my house
are white, the wood is polished, the glass dusted.

The season waits, still warm, though turning toward
the mild winter of the middle south. Not much.
The trees are in their autumn beauty, the cedar mulch

is dry. The neighbors have one pink flamingo, thank God
not nineteen, they keep having to retrieve
from other lawns. North across industrial yards

are white temple churches in a neighborhood Falwell
once called home, school to his heart I'm sure of now.
Driving back across his city this Sunday morning

I've proved what I needed to, remembering again the
haunting lines, not often sung in the Republic's Battle Hymn:
I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel,

as ye deal with my condemners so with you my grace shall deal.

We will be a while in this town winnowing out our souls.

Jane Hoogestraat, BA '81
Poet and professor of English,
Southwest Missouri State University
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