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  • Jennifer Polson Peterson (Image Journal)

On Liturgy

A poem by Jennifer Polson Peterson, from Image Journal


Fear not, little flock.

—Luke 12:32


When he likened us to a flock

he certainly meant sheep

but this morning from the back pew

of a building, stone and chancelled, nothing like

the over lit, shag carpet church of my childhood,

here amid arch and echo I think

we are a flock of birds—

starlings gathering in their murmuration.

The pensive organ, the hushed

chatter now dips, now crests, and at the bells

we all together fold to silence,

as when the helixing black cloud drops

down to feed across a reed bed.

All at once the stillness breaks

into a great applause of wings, the mounting up

in doxology, the downsweep then

of many heads in prayer. How

strange, how ominous almost

for one on the ground to watch

this cluster heave itself

heavenward, obeying powers

invisible as magnetism,

forming and reforming in the shape

of something too large to be likened.


From Image Journal (click to hear the author read this poem)

Jennifer Polson Peterson holds an MFA in poetry from Albertus Magnus College. Her work has appeared in Pembroke Magazine, Cumberland River Review, Rockvale Review, and Diaphanous. She is a writing instructor at the University of Southern Mississippi.


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