This article was originally published by The Mennonite

Walking the rail

Every Sunday, after the last hymn at River Corner, I’d run outside
leaving parents, preacher and prayers on hard wooden benches inside
for the soft wood of the maple tree that grew astride

pipe fence stretching around the graveyard. In churches of our
type, monuments outnumbered the living. Rows of stones like
ripe fruit trees leaned as they marched twards fields they once plowed.

In life they strove for order; in death they are released, lolling
to one side or the other. From the tree I’d step on to the rail, toeing
the chipped gray paint. I was a Mennonite too proud, strolling

three feet above my friends. Still I grip those branches, now at my
knee, and carefully step inch by inch along the pipe. As I
reach the end of one branch I grab the next and move hand

over hand til I am at the end of the last branch and then I let
it too snap back to the trunk. My feet have grown steady and I can set
my feet apart and balance, arms outstretched; the grass my only net

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