"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)



Driving North, 1981

The darkness was Protestant that year, but not
with individual conscience, the hymn of the south,
or the priesthood of the believer. Haunted,
driving north, I watched the horizon gray
over Oklahoma, the rim of fires drifting down
from Manitoba. I stepped out hours later
to the first cold of September, a season's end.
The magnolias were already old those last evenings,
reflected in the watery light of summer rain. The air
was dark with words. But this spring, a hymn heard
through a distant window brought back the years
before: The place where crepe myrtle blooms
early and late, where old bells echo from a green
Handel and Mendelssohn and all the music of Passover,
where almost every lamppost has a name
and shadows cross our days without erasing joy.

-Jane Hoogestraat


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