My Father’s Church
I spend my childhood in a church,
yet never go on Sunday, the place hopping
with Presbyterians, save when my father,
the custodian, gets paged for a choked
furnace. My brother & I follow him
down into the bowels of the building,
feeling heat far before the boiler room door.
On the flights up, we hear hysterical cries,
the minister’s screaming in Korean
after the window behind his desk blew in,
smashing over his head, trapping him
inside a jagged glass collar. As my father
frees him, the minister keeps bowing
in gratitude, ducking his head in quick
nods, thank you, thank you, nearly grazing
his jugular on the points as father cries,
Stop, please! You’ll cut your throat!
My brother & I clock long afternoons
roaming the body of the building, racing
down dim linoleum halls, climbing
the steeple to touch the bronze bell, hiding
& seeking in the forest of pews, believing
for those hours, in the sanctuary as ours.
Willa Carroll’s poems have appeared in Tin House, Narrative, 5 AM, Mary Magazine, Tuesday; An Art Project, and Stone Canoe. Winner of Narrative’s Third Annual Poetry Contest, a Pushcart Prize nominee, and a semi-finalist for Discovery / Boston Review Contest, she was also awarded the Liam Rector Scholarship at Bennington. She lives in New York with her husband, a filmmaker with whom she collaborates on projects that bridge film and poetry.