Broken Dams and Benedictions

by Allen Guest


The assignment is a lyric poem;
pastoral, she said.
He knows this does not involve preaching,
but now all he can think about is being in church.

He is twelve years old.
It’s May, and the tall sanctuary windows are open.
Springtime gospel pours in like creek water,
drowning song and sermon and sin and salvation.
And now he thinks of damming up the creek near
his house with rocks and mud, and little
minnows trapped in a pool.
And how, when the dam inevitably broke,
the minnows went shooting out of
their watery worship service,
a dam-break benediction of sorts.

And now he thinks of running through the
broke-open doors of the church,
back into the
boy-stream of being twelve.


Allen Guest is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Clemson University, where he teach courses in the calculus sequence for science and engineering majors. He is relatively new to poetry and poetry writing. He tries to bring the exactness of mathematics to my poetry, and hopes the attempt brings a certain clarity of image to my work.

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