busted halo annual campaign
Busted Halo
feature: religion & spirituality
March 5th, 2008

Tuning the Pipe Organ

 
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailfacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

I grew up with the accoutrements of pipe organs

filling our garage, some as small as piccolos,

some arriving like giants in rough-hewn crates.
On occasional Saturdays, I helped my father tune

what he had built inside quiet churches, each dim
as an underwater scene, each cool as a cave

no matter what season. I preferred the older
sanctuaries with their faint smell of damp,

with their dark mahogany pews and marble floors
that would clack beneath women’s Sunday heels.

I walked with my father the length of the nave
toward where a crucifix hung like a compass,

then veered right or left toward the organ’s console.
Before he disappeared down some dark hallway

like he would one day disappear forever, my father
settled on the bench, pulled the knobs he called stops,

and then began to play. Sound filled the church
like a full-bodied wine as his fingers skirled

three cliffs of keys, as his feet ranged the pedals
like some intricate folkdance. My job was

much simpler—to begin with middle C,
to hold down each note until I heard

his disembodied voice calling Next.
A few of those low notes were like fog horns,

others were like ogres bellowing, but each was
capable of palpating my lungs, of claiming my throat.

Stained glass cast its jewels across my lap, and
in that moment I understood something about eternity.

For that moment, I felt close to holy.

 
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailfacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail
The Author : Lavonne J. Adams
Lavonne J. Adams has received both the Persephone Poetry Prize and the Randall Jarrell/Harperprints Chapbook Award. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Southern Poetry Review, Connecticut Review, Briar Cliff Review, and Missouri Review. She teaches poetry at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.
See more articles by (2).
Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
powered by the Paulists