Happy To Love It

They were the most off-key congregation gathered under

one roof to joyfully churn out hymns played by the organist

in the name of the Lord. You think I am exaggerating.

Think this. Neither courage, nor goodness, nor spite

plastered these voices together, and once straining

against the boards, a kind of workable nightmare

ascended in the air, and they were made whole.

Just one congregation made this crowded sound, warped

before breath keened over chord, thumping out measures

in their hearts, the highest tinny voice curled, double-helix

around the flat bass driven into the magma. In ordinary time,

the congregation found no more or less joy in this.

They were like Old Faithful, something that occurred.

And their singing didn’t care for you. Or your ways.

They sang because a contract had been forged. And between

them — someone will be first, and someone must be last,

and some girl will sing best, and some boy croons

askew. It is told every day, blunt or blunted.

So, on Sunday mornings their voices thrum out under the bells,

a reminder to us all that we will sing, too,

and continue to sing, and are singing with them.

Karen Nystrom

Karen Nystrom is a poet and playwright living in Ellison Bay, WI. Her poems have appeared in 8142 Review, The Denver Quarterly, The Harvard Review, Indiana Review, and others. She has an MFA from Vermont College and is currently looking for a theater for her most recent play, 7 TEETH: A Northwoods Farce.

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