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Mark Thalman


This country church 
with its one room and steeple, 
boards bleached to bone, 
endures by the dirt road. 

For miles around, 
stalks of ripe wheat bow their heads. 

Anyone is welcome here. 
The last minister had the doors unhinged 
and carted away. 

Now, white pigeons roost in the belfry. 
When the spirit moves, they burst like shot: 
a choir of wings, afternoon thunder, angels 
into the blue again.

This poem first appeared in Seems and The Oregonian.
Used here with the author’s permission.

Mark Thalman, editor of and author of Catching the Limit (Fairweather Books), has been widely published for four decades. He received his MFA from the University of Oregon, and is retired after teaching English in public schools for 32 years. Mark, also an artist who enjoys painting wildlife scenes with acrylics, lives in Forest Grove, OregonLearn more about him at

Post New Comment:
Ginny C.:
Nice piece, very skillfully rendered, every word essential. The church opens to every blessed thing and the spirit of the reader opens upon reading this poem.
Posted 07/15/2011 11:16 AM
Thank you for this fine poem.
Posted 07/15/2011 09:15 AM
Linda Lee (Konichek):
Wonderful images and thoughtful message. Thanks, Mark-nice way to start the day.
Posted 07/15/2011 07:57 AM
"Boards bleached to bone," with its minimal alliteration. Minimalism . . . saying so much with so little, allowing the reader write his or her own poem between the lines. Fine work.
Posted 07/15/2011 07:47 AM
Now there's a church I'd like to join :) Love the detail about the minister unhinging the doors and having them "carted away."
Posted 07/15/2011 06:40 AM
Donal Mahoney:
Such a fine poem by a poet whose work I have encountered before and hope I will encounter again.
Posted 07/15/2011 04:11 AM

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