POETRY by Kathe L. Palka

Clover Hill Reformed Church (Hillsborough, NJ)

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
John 1:5

It stands as it always has, constant
even in the wake of December’s celebrations.
Along the Old Amwell Road, a white clapboard sentinel
whose vigil spans three centuries. Circa 1834.
Built in a wave of revival that swept the East
then rose up in a hundred wooden steeples,
its church spire rises still, visible by day
on all approaches to the gentle summit it occupies,
and at night, a lit beacon ascending in the darkness.
Churchyard stones bare its congregations’ chiseled history,
seven generations sustained–the weathered names
of Dutch and English founders, the shortened years
of children culled by epidemic, and the steady swell of those
who later came to settle over the farms of Amwell Valley.
Like watchful eyes, high arched windows
bear ever patient witness to faith,
rippled panes glinting in the pale winter light.

Faith to See

Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you.” And their eyes were opened.
Matthew 9:29-30a

On a wide street, Oz-like buildings touch
a luminous sky, soft as at sunset or dawn,
and I sit in a parked car that is not mine
or any car I’ve ever known.
Outside, a strange city carries on without sound
until Father reaches from the backseat to place
the fingers of both hands gently over my eyes.
Beyond infirmity, he speaks with the voice of my childhood.

There are things you needn’t see in Los Angeles.
Then he is gone and the city moves again in silence.

Awake, a year after I watched the flowers freeze
on his grave, I want to know this
is what the Creed calls the Communion of Saints,
evidence from the City of Angels, where I have never been,
that he has told me to have faith.
Eyes now open, can I believe I’ve seen?

Kathe L. Palka is a New Jersey poet who was recently included in The Journal of New Jersey Poets (25th Anniversary Issue).  She has edited a literary quarterly, The Higginsville Reader, and is currently at work on her first collection of poems, The Grace of Light.  One of her poems was included in To Love One Another: Poems Celebrating Marriage (Grayson Books, 2002). She serves as Deacon at the local Reformed Church.