The Church On Comiaken Hill
for Sydney Pettit
The lines are keen against today's bad sky
about to rain. We're white and understand
why Indians sold butter for the funds
to build this church. Four hens and a rooster
huddle on the porch. We are dark
and know why no one climbed to pray. The priest
who did his best to imitate a bell
watched the river, full of spirits, coil
below the hill, relentless for the bay.
A church abandoned to the wind is portent.
In high wind, ruins make harsh music.
The priest is tending bar. His dreams have paid
outrageous fees for stone and mortar.
His eyes are empty as a chapel
roofless in a storm. Greek temples seem
the same as forty centuries ago.
If we used one corner for a urinal,
he wouldn't swear we hadn't worshipped here.
The chickens cringe. Rain sprays chaos where
the altar and the stained glass would have gone
had Indians not eaten tribal cows
one hungry fall. Despite the chant,
salmon hadn't come. The first mass
and a phone line cursed the river.
If rain had rhythm, it would not be Latin.
Children do not wave as we drive out.
Like these graves ours may go unmarked.
Can we be satisfied when dead
with daffodils for stones? These Indians--
whatever they once loved or used for God--
the hill--the river--the bay burned by the moon--
they knew that when you die you lose your name.
Richard Hugo's Other Poems
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Comments about this poem (The Church On Comiaken Hill by Richard Hugo )
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616)
(7 May 1861 – 7 August 1941)
(28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827)
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
- A Homage To The Freedom Fighters Of India, Raja Basu
- Daffodils, William Wordsworth
- Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
- If, Rudyard Kipling
- Tonight I can write the saddest lines, Pablo Neruda
- Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Dylan Thomas
- Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Robert Frost
- All the World's a Stage, William Shakespeare
- A Poison Tree, William Blake
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