Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace
by Kathryn Stripling Byer

That sure-as-God white
paint that blinds when the sun
glances off it at noon

moves the preacher to say “Peace
go with you,” and send us forth
into the grass with our baskets

and tablecloths we spread like islands
of plenitude. Now let us gather among the graves
leading like stepping-stones down

to the meadow where deer
come to feed in the shadow of Ancient
of Days. There the thunder

lives, God’s voice,
the old prophets threaten, but why
should He speak to us only in anger?

That playing of wind
in the witch-hobble could be His drawing
nigh. Could be He’s singing

like bees on the applecake,
soothing the children to sleep
while their mothers fall silent,

remembering winter nights’
watch over sickbeds and small coffins
sealed against morning

light. “Wake up!”
their fathers call, hitching the wagons
and sounding each living

name: Willa Mae.
Almarine. Emma Bell. One
by one rising and

rubbing their eyes, they
see white paint and everywhere
dogwood white flame.

     Wildwood Flower: Poems
     Louisiana State University Press October 1992

1992_Broadway Street_Brown.jpg

Ralph Burns, Broadway Street, Asheville, N.C., 1992.
Courtesy of the Artist.

Amazing Grace