I see one bumblebee heading
over the fence and into the doorway
of this shrunken Old Field’s Baptist Church.
The trees are tagged with signs
of modern advancement: KEEP OUT,
BAD DOGS, as out of the big house
comes a white-haired man saying
he’s Harry Smith, maker of this
miniature, and everything is copacetic
if I want to take a look.
Just be sure to keep him
in my story.
The real church has vanished
from the hill but here’s a six-foot-long
god-house that Harry Smith built
in his livingroom before turning it
out to winter.
The steeple strung with Christmas lights
soars in Wonderland proportions
over the roof’s peeling coat of red
as I stoop for the peepshow,
four-inch pews are scattered like chance
into a sanctuary;
wasps with wafer-thin wings
fly before cellophaned windows,
the altar lit in a dusky, underwater blue.
No parishioners puzzle in a stain
of sunlight. This church
is cleansed of people,
of all but the ceremony of cutting,
the ritual of nailing
disappearance into place.
That night the big church came down,
it must have spread its cloistered parts
like stars in a dark country night
till Harry took charge and planted
in his yard what anyone will remember
of Old Field’s Baptist Church.
I’m on my knees
and he’s still saying remember me,
holding out his photo
of the first, the big and the real
one. So, in the language of installation,
I commit Harry and his church,
hatched in a house, to shine
as blue as bedside stars over Old Field’s.
A far clock chimes in mid-summer.