Through the cooling dark,
they walk, Lillian, Webster, Riley, Anna,
MacArthur and Eurel, returning
from Heavenly Father and Yes, Jesus!,
from paper fans with little brown
girls in Sunday bonnets "M-hmmmm"
from the communion of sour juice and crackers,
ah weh-lll, from church mothers in nurses' uniforms and rills of sweat spilling from black brows.
Have mercy on us, Father.
Look down upon us, Father, and give us
your blessing, in Jesus' name . . .
Above a darkened bough, a wing
beats, and in the pitchy shadows crickets
shrill, and a frog repeats, repeats,
repeats. Maybe Anna holds her father's
hand. Maybe the boys tussle and pitch
stones into darkness while their mother
watches, humming and holding
her Bible more firmly than an ax handle,
or maybe they go weary on and quiet.
It is only their steps you hear, only shifting sand.
On a rural route, a family walks
while the night begins its long sermon, and the miles go by, and the miles go by.
If an owl calls from that darkness,
then someone will die. If a hound keens
one long, longing vowel, they will shudder.
If a star plummets, that too will have meaning.
This is faith, the road that takes them home.