back to church
“Wade in the Water,” St. James Missionary Baptist Church, Canton, Miss., 1978
by Nina Cassian (1924-2014)
There’ll be a time, serene, a time for hymns.
I’ll underline the air with just one gesture,
and I will utter stainless words.
I will say “sky” and “brook” and I’ll say “sun”
and “tear” and “music” and “immunity.”
There’ll be a time, a time when memory
of massacres won’t reach me anymore,
turning instead into a distant breeze of poetry
as sometimes blood itself exhales.
From all that once had been promiscuous,
only the sacred will remain, and I will praise
the contrasts, reconciled, forgiven and forgiving.
So I’ll say “sky” and “sun” and “music”
and sky will be, and sun will be, and music
will be around me and around the world.
I’ll let the vowels all regain their halo.
And it will come, that bright, sonorous time,
a time solemn and pure, a time for hymns,
and it will come, that time. Indeed, it will!