Marriage

Yet hidden in the country
such a house exists unhindered
by itself. No one cares to notice
what appears impoverished. Man, red;
woman, black. Afraid of nothing but
drought, they ornament the seasons
with bells and pumpkins and ceramic
chickens. They link their wash on
the long line over the furrows for
better or for worse. Not their land
upon which they live and toil which
swarms the patched house in growing
season and peels back flat as famine
when fallow, leaving mosquitos to
breed in the forked prints of deer
and crows as hawk's bondsmen
above the distant timberline.

Beneath a light on a porch pole
they sit, worn; the radio playing
"Heart of My Heart" as the terrific
silence limns them against the
world like statues in an endless
gallery. Made things which stare
at the moon beyond sleep's window,
not dreaming of what is wrong, but
what is bedded in bone and hereafter;
and, like beasts which hunker beneath
what now calls their blankets, pray
and kiss and listen to what they
alone can hear in the strange love
borne in the earthback turning.

Joseph Bathanti was teaching writing and literature at St. Andrew's Presbyterian College in Laurinburg, North Carolina when this poem appeared. Among his published writings is a book of poetry, Communion Partners.

Read the Full Article

​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Subscribe