Ruins Ekphrasis

The lord is dead, a photographer says,
taking pictures of an abandoned church.

Who is he—the doctor
who writes God’s prescriptions?

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If God were sick, the earth
would swallow itself like a pill,

the sky collapse in a silent
collision. If dead, the galaxies

would protest, demanding
an explanation for their existence.

But through broken windows,
the evidence of God grows

unencumbered by chairs
or concrete walls.

At night, I feel the pulse
of God overwhelm me.

And what does the photographer feel?
Above him, are the trees silent?

In the abandoned church, the ceilings
collapse and pews point upward.

Fallen foliage becomes palm leaves,
a dead raccoon the offering.

Along the floor, a new temple
collects: two green budding trees.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
John Corcoran
5 months ago

It is fascinating that the picture of a church chosen to illustrate this poem regarding an abandoned church should pick this very picture. It is the church of the Good Shepherd in Tekapo NZ. It is an Anglican Church with a fine ecumenical heritage, Catholic mass is said there frequently! It was built at the edge of Lake Tekapo by the European settlers of the Mackenzie Country and sits as a very fine witness to Christ the Shepherd on the edge of the wilderness. Subsequent to the tourism boom in NZ it has become world renown, and there are many beautiful pictures of the church bedazzled by the Milky Way as the Church is set right in the middle of an area of World Heritage night sky! There are so many visitors coming to see it, now the local council is having to re locate the car park, fence the immediate area provide toilets, and attempt to educate visitors that this is an active church, and coming in during services is not appropriate, and photographing through the window behind the alter is disrespectful of the congregation at prayer. It is New Zealand's most photographed building! Given that this active church community is threatened by being overwhelmed by tourism, the fact that it exposes many none christians to the witness of Christ is it self a blessing, and evidence of the Holy Spirit at work.

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