Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Prodigal II

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Prodigal II

Article excerpt

I wanted to say I have come home

to bear witness, to read the sign

emblazoned on the church marquee

Believe the report of the Lord

and trust that this is noble work, that

which must be done. I wanted to say I see,

not I watch. I wanted my seeing to be

a sanctuary, but what I saw was this:

in my rearview mirror, the marquee's

other side-Face the things that confront you.

My first day back, a pilgrim, I traveled

the old neighborhood, windows up,

steering the car down streets I hadn't seen

in years. It was Sunday. At the rebuilt church

across from my grandmother's house,

I stepped into the vestibule and found

not a solid wall as years before, but

a new wall, glass through which I could see

the sanctuary. And so, I did not go in;

I stood there, my face against the glass,

watching. I could barely hear the organ,

the hymn they sang, but when the congregation rose,

filing out of the pews, I knew it was the call

to altar. …

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