Poem: Better Scenery

Better Scenery

You stand at the top of the quarry
and watch the rooftops and farms.
Slate roofs and brick chimneys.
Farms dot the landscape.
In the distance a cow lows.
In the distance, you hear birds.

Take away the power lines and parked cars
and it could be a hundred years ago,
a beautiful bucolic lie.

Down below is fear. Loss. Hunger.
It’s all there. Betrayal and brokenness.
Sickness. A panoply of drugs.
Women and children with bruises.
Did I mention fear? I should have.

Don’t get me wrong. There is beauty too.
Listen closely and you can hear children laughing in a yard below.
Look closely and you will see the old couple in their yard,
carefully and lovingly cultivating their garden and each other.
Someone is having breakfast.
A couple holds hands across the table.

Church begins in an hour. You will be there
with a couple dozen more, none of of pretenders.
We live here. We know the pain and pleasure
of this little town we have settled our souls in.
We come in need of each other, in need
of a God we see only in our own survival
and prayers answered in unexpected ways.
A place not for the whole, but the needy,
fully aware of our strengths and the broken places.

This is where you live. It is beautiful. It is tragic.
It is real. The devil lives here. God too,
but the battles are quiet, fought behind white clapboard
and perfect lawns.

Live here a while
and you will know.
We are like everyone else,
but with better scenery.

About this poem.

This is SO not the poem I set out to write. But here we are.

I love my little corner of Vermont. Beauty and brokeness both. The picture was taken from atop the quarry across from my house.



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