Vanishing Point

Hendrick Cornelisz. van der Vliet, Intérieur de l’Oude Kerk à Delft (1660–1670)

Already (my birthday, falling in mid-October,
a week away) pumpkins on stoops
and witches with brooms and gauzy spooks
asway on wrought-iron railings. These
disturb the grid that is at dusk
our habit to walk, a grid of blocks—

galleries, one and then another
until a church in Delft, the floor of its nave,
siphons my vision. Flanked by colonnades,
arcades with pointed arches,
beneath a wooden vault: a stone-slab grid—
receding lines that aim as though at God

as through the eye of a needle,
the rood screen’s doorway into the shadowy chancel.
Stone slabs, some few of which a man,
waist-deep in the floor,
whose red shirt draws the eye away—
this man’s pried up and swiveled aside.

Around him in heaps—
his right arm propped on the shovel,
against a column the broom—
a graveful of dirt. Waist-deep in the grave,
he’s hearing out a white-collared elder in black
with a Puritan hat on. Loose dirt and clods,

with bones, which look like clods, mixed in. A grid
of square stone slabs, converging lines that find,
I see, in the dusk of the chancel
the red-shirted grave’s new body … She bristles,
the dog does. A long, low growl
inches me up on whatever is new to sniff.

David Havird

David Havird

David Havird is the author of two collections of poems, Map Home (2013) and Penelope’s Design (2010), a chapbook. His new book, Weathering, to be published in 2020 by Mercer University Press, is a “chimeric omnibus” of poetry and memoir. He taught for 30 years at Centenary College of Louisiana.
David Havird

Author: David Havird

David Havird is the author of two collections of poems, Map Home (2013) and Penelope’s Design (2010), a chapbook. His new book, Weathering, to be published in 2020 by Mercer University Press, is a “chimeric omnibus” of poetry and memoir. He taught for 30 years at Centenary College of Louisiana.