All in by Catherine Abbey Hodges

by Catherine Abbey Hodges

Sunday morning in the church of air,

great blue heron hunched over the good

book, chapters and verses swirling

about his legs.

Never the same river,

always the same word—history, proverb,

psalm, parable—and the one sermon

in many tongues season to season,

moment to moment, whether

I attend or not.

   Pews of lichened granite,

obsidian cherts that caught the light

before landing among the grasses

and fallen leaves:

the wood ducks

in the high windows know it all

by heart. Small birds with names

I don’t recall

sound from sycamores

like bells.

       And none of this depends

on me, though I see now that somehow

I depend on it—the river, the stooped

heron and the one rising on great wings

above its reflection, the Yokuts family

at home here

in the ouzel’s inner eyelid,

the wood ducks with their deep


and the small birds

with their bells—

         you and I depend

on this whether or not we’ve ever

darkened the slim doorway,

lifted the latch that’s everywhere.


Catherine Abbey Hodges is the author of the poetry collections Raft of Days (Gunpowder Press 2017) and Instead of Sadness (Gunpowder Press 2015), selected by Dan Gerber as winner of the Barry Spacks Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared widely and been featured on The Writer’s Almanac and Verse Daily. Catherine teaches English at Porterville College in California’s San Joaquin Valley, where she was named 2017 Faculty of the Year. She co-coordinates California Poets in the Schools for Tulare County and collaborates with her husband, musician Rob Hodges.