The Church on Friar Road

by John Villan

This is the church, here on Friar Road; the storms 
of Spring took its steeple, but they left untouched
the window of stained glass & that is enough for those 
who gather, those who remember. They are few, 
but their voices fill the space from lectern to nave.

The window shows an Agnus Dei, the Lamb of God,
resting snow-white & demure, cradling the banner
of the cross. They look to it singing of being wretched
& poor, just as they are, looking to one who promises
to be gentle in a time that has not been gentle.

Over the years, it had one name, then another, but signs
fade & moods change, so now it is just the church—
plain & simple as the lime-washed clapboard embracing
its frame, the old boards scraped & renewed uncounted
times since the day it was raised.

They come, oft on foot, some with walker or cane
to be together, to pray & to sing, to celebrate their births 
& mourn their deaths. There is joy here as well as sorrow, 
as always, as ever in the years that are bright, in the years
that are dim. This is what they remember.

As the leaves turn & autumn rain falls, their voices raise.
The bulbs go dim, fail, so they hold aloft flickering candles 
into the night. It is cold, but they huddle to feel the warmth
of the Lamb’s wool, the comfort of the great beating heart
that will endure beyond the roof & the walls.

John Villan is a writer of fiction and poetry exploring themes of religion, nature, and the future of humanity. When he is not writing, he enjoys spending time woodworking and furniture-making as well as hiking to remote waterfalls and other sites of natural wonder. He has lived and traveled throughout much of the continental United States and has an avid interest in American history, with a special focus on colonial era history. His work can also be found in the upcoming fifteenth issue of Littoral Magazine: Nature and Spirit. He lives in northern Arkansas with his wife and their three dogs.

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