Thursday, December 6, 2018

Watchers by Robert Demaree

By birth a Midwest Presbyterian
Not given to creeds,
He cheerfully went along
When he took a Methodist bride,
A daughter of the New South,
Still Protestant, more or less.
I grew up in the boarding school
Where he taught, one of his duties
Sunday worship in the ivied chapel,
Not Anglican but close,
Still Protestant, more or less.
Once, visiting my grandparents’ church,
The pastor invited us forward
To rededicate our lives.
Dad and I headed out the back door.
That church moved and changed with the times,
So that in retirement he was content
To spend the sermon counting
Blue shirts in the congregation
And smiling that sweet, distant smile.

I became a Presbyterian the same way,
The circle completed, unbroken, more or less.
I think of those blue shirts,
Of the creedal advice the young seminarian
Received: say just the parts you do believe.
And, as the offering is brought forward,
I sing different words to the tune of the doxology:
Vigiles et sancti, ye watchers and ye holy ones,
The words we sang at The Hill School,
In Pennsylvania,
In 1955.

Robert Demaree is the author of four book-length collections of poems, including Other Ladders, published in June 2017 by Beech River Books. His poems received first place in competitions sponsored by the Poetry Society of New Hampshire and the Burlington Writers Club, and have appeared in over 150 periodicals. A retired educator, he resides in Wolfeboro, N.H. and Burlington, N.C. 

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