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From Whence


72 pages / 6.00 x 9.00 inches / None


  Paperback / 9780807132241 / March 2007

The threshold—the moment when a situation or a person is transformed into something new, for either good or ill—is the central image of From Whence. In many of these lyric poems, the moment of change either is in sharp focus or is exerting its gravitational pull on the poem. It could be the instant when a rock being held up on a frozen pond melts through and makes its plunge, or that dizzying moment when a child realizes that his childhood is over forever. It is leaving a church revival, finding snow outside, and seeing that "Each flake, each one individual we knew, / disappeared into all the others / and made a place for the moonlight to rest." In these moments are loss and newfound joy. From Whence is a hymn to both.

It seemed it took all of her
to play it. Her smooth hands worked
the double keyboard, her shoulders
rolled under the robe when she reached
to the stops, oboe, lute, or harp.
She'd unsnap the robe, bottom up,
and spread it back over the bench
to give her legs the freedom they needed.
Only I could see her feet.
She'd taken off her shoes
to feel the low register pedals
with the private dark toe of her Sunday hose.
Through "Holy, Holy, Holy" and "I Love
Thy Kingdom, Lord" I was acolyte
to her organ's hum. The Word,
as her hymns swelled, became flesh.

“Organist” published in From Whence by Michael Chitwood.
Copyright © 2007 by Michael Chitwood. All rights reserved.

Michael Chitwood is the author of six previous poetry collections, including The Weave Room, Salt Works, and Whet, and the essay collections Hitting Below the Bible Belt and Finishing Touches. He is a visiting lecturer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a regular commentator for WUNC-FM.

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