The thresholdthe moment when a situation or a person is transformed into something new, for either good or illis the central image of From Whence. In many of these lyric poems, the moment of change either is in sharp focus or is exerting its gravitational pull on the poem. It could be the instant when a rock being held up on a frozen pond melts through and makes its plunge, or that dizzying moment when a child realizes that his childhood is over forever. It is leaving a church revival, finding snow outside, and seeing that "Each flake, each one individual we knew, / disappeared into all the others / and made a place for the moonlight to rest." In these moments are loss and newfound joy. From Whence is a hymn to both.
It seemed it took all of her to play it. Her smooth hands worked the double keyboard, her shoulders rolled under the robe when she reached to the stops, oboe, lute, or harp. Shed unsnap the robe, bottom up, and spread it back over the bench to give her legs the freedom they needed. Only I could see her feet. Shed taken off her shoes to feel the low register pedals with the private dark toe of her Sunday hose. Through "Holy, Holy, Holy" and "I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord" I was acolyte to her organs hum. The Word, as her hymns swelled, became flesh.
"Organist" published in From Whence by Michael Chitwood. Copyright © 2007 by Michael Chitwood. All rights reserved.
AUTHOR BIO: Michael Chitwood is the author of six previous poetry collections, including The Weave Room, Salt Works, and Whet, and the essay collections Hitting Below the Bible Belt and Finishing Touches. He is a visiting lecturer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a regular commentator for WUNCFM.