W. D. Ehrhart  

Singing Hymns in Church

    My mother loved to sing,
but couldn't sing to save her life.
My childhood passed from week to week,
counted out in Sunday mornings
I would have to sit beside her
in the first pew, pretending I was
far away and she was not my mother
while she bellowed out the hymns
so loud and badly I was sure
God or Mr. Hoot would silence her
with lightning or a sharp word
and look at me as if to say,
"Why don't you keep her quiet?"

At home, she couldn't sing out loud.
Her husband and her sons were quick
to say what God and Mr. Hoot
were too polite to tell her.
All those many hurts she carried
in the stillness of her heart
we never thought of, being men
too conscious only of ourselves,
too ignorant to understand the beauty
of the Christian Church where once a week
my mother sang for God and me,
and all the angels sang along,
and what she heard was joy.
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    Copyright © 1993 by W. D. Ehrhart
The Distance We Travel, Adastra Press, 1993
This poem currently appears in Thank You For Your Service: Collected Poems, McFarland & Company, 2019

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