Whisky and Merton in the Country of Spring–Charity Gingerich

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We weep for love
in the imperfect wood
in the land of bodies
–Thomas Merton, “May Song”

Between the chapel and infirmary
I thought I heard a goose,
looked up for the body and saw

only the American flag, it’s snap
like a woman’s skirt at the edge of a battlefield.
The joke on me, shiny magnolia

leaves, a stray branch touching high
the wavy pane of old glass, giving a call
so different from the clear wavering

voices of sisters at Mass earlier,
and I, passing under the windows of their prayers
then, unsure of where to go

went to the graveyard to say hello
to the many girls my age from the edge of
the frontier. So encountering

the first tentative forsythia blooms hiding
from winter’s last retreating soldiers,
it was like finding their far-off lamps

in a travelled night. I wanted to pick a daffodil
and place it on one of the sister’s graves,
but I wanted to do it because I wanted to

and not because it sounded nice.
And so began my week of contemplation:
a shadow following spring around a graveyard

and other winding paths, every sound
a painful truth, or a question like do you suppose.


Charity Gingerich is from Uniontown, Ohio, where she currently teaches literature and creative writing (part-time) at the University of Mount Union. She taught writing at West Virginia University from 2008-2014, where she also obtained her MFA. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Arts & Letters, Quiddity, Redivider, Ruminate, and The Kenyon Review, among other journals. She was a Tennessee Williams Scholar at the Sewanee Writer’s Conference this summer (2016). When not writing and teaching, she sings with various choral groups.

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