Washington National Cathedral
October 7, 2001

In Afghanistan today,
Our airplanes are dropping
Bombs and food
Too soon to know
Where this news will lead.

I walk the path where on Sundays in Eastertide,
Amid ringing bells,
Treble voices echo from open casement windows.

Today it is colder
Quiet along this path
Through autumn darkened oaks
In the shadow of gray stone.

The tourists near me pause.
Silently we look up
As low-flying helicopters
Roar from the sky.

In the bishop’s garden
Birds in the holly bushes call aloud
Responding to a high flying F-16
Visible above us, through placid autumn sky:

In the woods, leaves begin
Their yearly spiral to the ground
Responding to the first real wind of autumn.

Sunlight dapples on old beech trees
Their thick roots digging deep,
Great fingers
        Grasping the soil.
Their silver bark reflecting in its color
The gray stone skin of the cathedral façade,
        Young skin,
Stretched over shapes eight hundred years old,
Enclosing a silent space that echoes
With clashing symbols:
        House of Prayer for All
Battle hymns
        Way of Peace
Patriot’s flag
        Suffering Love

Where at Evensong today
The choir will sing,

        As for centuries
        In scattered churches
        Of this civilization
        Choirs have sung at eveng:

        Only in Thee
        Can we live in

From Annunciations, Poems out of Scripture