In The Dark, In The North

Think of a country steeple under country stars.

Think of an old man in a kind of closet.

He has a rope’s end in his hands.

It’s dark. A light bulb. Lantern maybe.

The church smells empty as an attic, old

as floorboards in a sagging barn.

There’s nobody awake for miles — he knows that:

only, off beyond him somewhere,

deeper in the night, the hills,

a bell that answers his bell answering.

The rope pulls. The reverberating iron

rings. He hears that other ringing, Conway

answering Chocorua. Which answers.

Think of that closet and the slender rope

worn smooth with human hands for generations —

with human handling. That’s New England —

church bells in New England — steeple

answering to steeple in New England.

— Archibald MacLeish, “The Great American Fourth of July Parade”

Vigil stories here.