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 Spirit Chimes

Pilgrimage to Sperryville


 

Folks don't come to Sperryville
to find anything new,
but to leave behind what isn't
plain and harmless as its
white-washed churches
and whiter fences and oaks
with past lives in another world.  

I came to escape what love had
done, others come  
to drink the mountain's
heart like sassafras tea, perhaps
absorb its wisdom and
its wild strength
or just to see a world outside
their shattered selves.

Just moments ago I thought the
only thing was passion, or rather,
the way passion is satisfied,
how you are lit from within,
perfected for a while,
somewhat of a god in the
purified darkness.

And then there is this . . .

And then there is the sky after it
has bled the innocence of
morning.
The lady selling apples by the
old bridge doesn't see it like I do:
Michelangelo clouds,
angel-spun and chrome-plated . . .
mountains full of youth and age;

she doesn't see them dip and strut
in a featherboa or
believe there is anything supernatural
about that blue.

She offers a taste of God's country to
city folks still bleary-eyed from
clocks that never take a breath
and glass mazes that don't know
how to pray
like the mountains do.

And there are willow baskets,
factory-made but playing their parts
well on log cabin porches.

Almost believable,
is that nothing has changed
in Sperryville.

And perhaps the quilts that
breathe in and out upon the wind
were made by saintly, gnarled
hands and the corn-husk dolls
are daughters of the field
behind the farmhouse.

I never did escape love's
blunt red curse,
but I did learn I was an
apprentice in the art of living,
and just when I think I'll
never get it right,
I hear a master's voice in
something so simple
you can believe anything
it tells you:

You can even believe it is
your own heart speaking.

And I believe as I take
dictation from rivers and
liquid mountains.
I buy twelve ears of corn,
a basket of peaches, and
suddenly I'm secretary to the
Universe,
coughing up words that don't
come close to tearing open the
absolute miracle of it all:

the way a distant valley can
diffuse you with its bottomless blue,
the way a centuries-old graveyard
can make you worship
this very moment.

Suddenly the love I fled
doesn't seem so inhuman,

and another sky bleeds the
memory of day,
wrings out each cloud like a rag.

And I watch myself, a stranger, a novice,
a pilgrim, drive away

while I make my home
in Sperryville.

Patricia Joan Jones

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