from Cradle Lands
We played parlor games in an abandoned chapel. The place was a relic of 1970s reform decor: typically hideous brick walls mounted with new-age cast bronze sculptures of Jesus. Who knows what divisions within the parish caused it to crackle and spark, and then to darken completely about two decades ago. My friends and I moved in and began our Thursday night ritual: Mafia, charades, Botticelli, and the one where everybody has a famous person’s name taped to their forehead. We did this for years. If you visit the chapel now—if your travels happen to take you there—among crushed cans and milk crates you will find hundreds of faded scraps of paper ringing the altar. They read: “Patty Hearst,” “Dick van Dyke,” “Robert Moses,” “Joan of Arc.” Like tiny supplications in all the European tongues, buoyed to heaven by broken glass and frittered bronze that once lived much closer to the sky.
Poet and essayist Sarah Heady writes on human geography, American history, and the built environment. She is the author of Niagara Transnational (Fourteen Hills, 2013), winner of the 2013 Michael Rubin Book Award in poetry. Her manuscript Corduroy Road was a finalist for the 2013 Omnidawn Poetry Chapbook Prize. She was a writer-in-residence at Art Farm in Marquette, Nebraska in the summer of 2013 and is currently an MFA candidate in poetry at San Francisco State University, where she is working on a nonfiction project about the Hudson River, 9/11, teenage love, and John Jacob Astor IV. More at sarahheady.com.