Thomas Alan Orr
That first warm night in the heartland,
Spring just a rumor, when open fields are still unplowed,
Asleep in the dream of soil for seed,
Eudie Green sits in his truck by the southeast corner
Of the barn—the only place
he can hear WSM 650 AM,
Playing the pure stuff—Merle Haggard, Ferlin Husky, Hank Snow.
He is smoking out there where his wife can’t see him,
Feeling the rumble deep underground of coal cars crossing the trestle
Over Brandywine Creek a mile away. Every star is clear—
Big Dog, Hunter, Rabbit—just at his fingertips, out of reach,
An odd discovery, always for the very first time.
He remembers how fine the old church looked at Easter
From the choir loft in back, above the heads of the faithful,
Pastor’s sermon dragging, the loft warm, the candlelight soothing,
And how he dozed, tumbling headlong into the pews below.
It felt like falling upward, stars exploding in his head,
And then the sudden darkness of no remembrance.
He awoke to the cheers and joyful weeping of the church,
As if returning home from a long journey,
Though it seemed just a moment’s passing,
But time plays tricks on the soul in flight, time plays
Before the Lord like a wayward child in the starlit dark.
The booming chant of the pastor’s voice filled his head like angel song.
“Son, I’ve tried to write that sermon all my life, but you finished it today!
Praise Jesus!” And the congregation said, “Amen!” And Eudie also wept,
Now the swell of music from the radio reaches to a closer sky,
And Eudie feels like he alone is listening as this plaintive mix
Of joy and sorrow joins the larger music of the night.
He wonders if the stars are startled by the noise, the sound
Of planet earth still alive and still home to Eudie Green.