Recessional

My father would leave the salt-encrusted Ford
Unlocked, the only car in the winter lot,
And draw a key for the heavy church door.

He’d click on a light over the organ,
Where it glowed in black like an angler fish
At the entrance to a cavern on the ocean floor.

His eyeglasses lit white from the bulb,
Bearded, he eased his bulk onto the bench,
Rifling folders of music in manuscript.

The huge old organ rumbled chorales,
Roared enormous chords, stopping midway
Through a passage, consigning a long resonance

From transept into the beamed vault of the nave,
Over the stone angel that shouldered the lectern
And silver vases emptied of fern and tulip.

In towering stained glass, lead outlines of Apostles
And The Ascension, lakes of green and violet, bright
In morning light, rose blackened and cryptic.

I explored while he scribbled notes on the sheets,
At times a subtle oath or cheerful “ha!”
While working up his Bach arrangements.

In a moment of boredom before the looming pulpit
I saw that a boy as small as I could easily
Pass clear under the polished wooden pews.

Never before would I have been so low
To the floor and childlike, not at services
With the adults. It felt like a discovery.

I inched on my dusty belly under the cold pews,
Slipping from the safe gloom thrown by his light
Toward the deep and promising darkness.

Ernest Hilbert

Ernest Hilbert

Ernest Hilbert is the author of three collections of poetry, Sixty Sonnets (2009), All of You on the Good Earth (2013), and Caligulan (2015). His fourth collection, Last One Out, will be published by Measure Press in 2018. He lives in Philadelphia where he works as a rare book dealer. 
Ernest Hilbert

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Author: Ernest Hilbert

Ernest Hilbert is the author of three collections of poetry, Sixty Sonnets (2009), All of You on the Good Earth (2013), and Caligulan (2015). His fourth collection, Last One Out, will be published by Measure Press in 2018. He lives in Philadelphia where he works as a rare book dealer.