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The wind shears through hardwoods,
       then rain brings down the leaves

     here, eight thousand miles east of
their archipelago of service,
     maplike now in its remoteness.

Woodsmoke censes the air in the hermitage
       they have made for themselves.
             A tin roof snugs it in.

   And is that a cricket singing?

The moorings of a life
          tighten, creak and hold.
Hearth fires burning the dead growth of the forest
                            enact a sacrament.

A church bell back there
   resonates over emerald rice fields,
waterfalls and terraced mountainsides
and the boars’-teeth-necklaced tribesmen
          they lived among:

pipe-smoking heads of families and their wives,
brown-footed sons who herd the pigs,
     pointy-breasted daughters.

        Drawn by the Sunday bell
into a sanctuary of tiled coolness,
         they look up into rafters
  where birds of astonishing colors
          sing and raise their young.

—Richard Tillinghast

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