(13 January 1957 / Chatham, Virginia)

The Physical Plant As Prologue

Everything here measures: weight, effort, sin—
and everything costs in this seclusion

of daughters, the place an ark—its hold
all of a kind in an archaic, combed

order: straightened teeth, trained spines, the chapel's
benches in rigid rows before crimson

kneeling pillows, slim beds in dormitories,
the muted ticking of practice rooms, the stalls

just-mucked, the halls humid with breathing.
And in the brushes, their hair—enough to line

the nests of a hundred generations of birds.

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