“Palimpsest,” by Suh Young Choi
April 19, 2018
A large church sanctuary. In the past few weeks, it’s seen too much. New pastor since the last one left for Fayetteville. New youth minister, since he’s leaving for Cabot. New music minister, since this one left for Orlando. New organist, since she left for Alabama. The choir still sings. The orchestra still plays. It’s in transition, but it’s not bad. Goodbye, Bruce. Goodbye, Wade. Goodbye, Jana. Goodbye, Fonda. Goodbye, everyone. Time for me to go, too.
A bustling community. Kids in Sunday best, adults having meals in harmony. Then terror. No one understands what’s happening. By now, everyone rushes to the sanctuary, because they know it means safety. Prayers are spoken and sung and thought. Ask and it will be given to you. Seek and ye shall find. Matthew 7:7. Oh God, give us peace.
It doesn’t look like much, but it’ll do. Somewhere, the sons and daughters of the Lord can gather to worship. Walls go up, a roof is made. Come, my children. Come and seek the Lord. He will welcome you with open arms. Come, see this goodness.
Enough people still find the sanctuary. The numbers diminish between the services. The latest generation of faithful youth have grown up and left. How much smaller can our Sunday school groups get? Breakfast is quiet. The old just get older. The handbell team is long gone. The youth choir, dismantled. The orchestra’s split up. Come on, guys. We’re still a family though, right? I look up. But God has bowed His head. There’s nothing here for you child. He says, Go Home.
Suh Young Choi wrote this poem while in 10th Grade at Roosevelt High School with WITS Writer Corinne Manning. Performed at the Seattle Arts & Lectures’ 2017/18 Literary Arts Series event with Laura Lippman and David Simon, March 30th, 2018.