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"Outside the St. Ignatius Mission"

Poems Across The Big Sky: An Anthology of Montana Poets

We must be poets to hear from home
on nights like this. The moon
has a thousand echoes
in mud puddles all over town.

The old Mission looms behind life
like something so terribly lost
that life anchors to the loss.
Its aged walls wane to ghost at night.

Through stained glass dim candles radiate
like the soul of something ancient
through the continuance of itself.
Home is a deeper place,

submerged here by the landing of this world
we cannot have
God no longer thunders
from the sky, but whispers

in the ground. Home is where
children leave and where
the dead go. We stand
between, reluctantly chanting to ourselves,

stepping in time.
Are we the last? Going down
with no futures behind us,
our light merely decorative

and vision given up?
We go on praying to Earth,
and to us Earth says,
No.

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Michael Umphrey is a writer, poet, and teacher. He currently teaches high school in Polson, Montana. "Outside the St. Ignatius Mission" was published in Poems Across The Big Sky: An Anthology of Montana Poets (2007 Many Voices Press).

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