The Hymnal (blue) 1982
By James RIchardson
O Gracious Light (twenty-five)
to dawn’s early light (seven-hundred-twenty)
You’ll find the block numbers up on the wall
they change every week.
Then find a blue book in front of you.
So many hands hold it,
their eyes careening across scratches
mouths in Os, open, take a breath,
oh please take a breath
So many hands smudge the corners
afraid to touch above the tiny italic,
never veering above
Watts, Proulx or Winkworth.
The book, after all, is silent, always.
Or is it?
The tunes leaping from eye to fingers to keyboard
The rest of us faking it a little,
Or a lot.
Warbling up and down with the dots and scratches,
cross hatches become sounds,
and that is a miracle if ever there was one.
Ever notice the lower corners on the cover of the Hymnal (blue) 1982?
A little tatered, bent, flattened
specks of brown paper sticking out,
bits of cardboard fraying,
Like my voice.