Coming from evening church

A response to Samual Palmer's 'Coming from evening church'

Coming from evening church

Coming from evening church

The full round moon stands still, nested between two
swelling hills, illumining the steeple, the guardian trees.

Silently the villagers move, in circling procession –
one by one, two by two, some holding hands in clusters:

men and women in warm-coloured robes
with solemn children, and bearded white-robed elders.

There’s something of painted wood in the glaze
of tempera, something trance-like in their expressions.

They dare not talk, even in whispers. If an owl hooted
from the branches it would disturb the breathless hush.

The first ones are tall, like dolls or statues. How small
the gables of their houses, rounding upward to a point –

fragile and purposeful as arks, moored beneath
the impassive hills, the watchful steeple, the pagan moon.