Share This Poem: “After Church,” by Ron Smith.

Byrd Park image by Chris Johnson for

BROAD STREET invites you to enjoy this poem from our “Maps & Legends” issue. It’s presented here as a broadside to download and print out — or you can scroll past and read the whole poem in plain text (though you’ll miss out on special indentations, alas).

After Church

Byrd Park, warm November

Little trees by the road: candleflames . . .

and the ducks on the pond a net

that flings itself white and black, veering

and skidding finally onto

the sky . . .

The fishermen cast,

the turtles sun in the eternal sun.

Every squirrel has an acorn in its mouth.

A child is chasing a chicken . . .

And, oh, that tree! apple-green-incandescent!

giant trunk twisting like a waterspout!

The big-leafed fellow beside him runs in yellow fire

down to the scummy canal . . .

So why is the red maple

bright yellow, the Japanese maple a dapple

of feathery pink, red, green?

God knows, God knows . . . The maidenhair tree

hasn’t turned yet (Gingko biloba)

and doesn’t stink today

the way it did three weeks ago.

Sweet gum’s hung like Christmas

with thousands of spiked balls . . .

The maples light all the shadows.

Cucumber magnolia, fifteen feet around — bare,

its suckers harping the breeze.

Bare river birch, your tiny twigs dendrite the blue,

don’t they? Let’s say so.


The Authorities have switched on

the cascade! And its

double rainbow! God

will not destroy us today

by water.


Ron Smith recently served as the Poet Laureate of Virginia, and he is the Writer-in-Residence at St. Christopher’s School in Richmond.

His books are Running Again in Hollywood Cemetery, Moon Road, Its Ghostly Workshop, and The Humility of the Brutes.


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