Sunday, January 6, 2008

Poet Laureate of Damascus, VA

“I was farred yesterday.”
“Yeah, farred.”

Dennis needed a cigarette and a sympathetic ear. So when he wandered out to the back deck of the Old Mill Restaurant—a deck with tables overlooking the Laurel River, where dozens of ducks were paddling—he found an ash tray and me.

The details of his sacking were complicated. He had had surgery. His company expected him back, but his doctor hadn’t released him to work. There was a misinformed receptionist at the doctor’s office, and his boss had been out to take his job.

Although he was only drinking sweet tea, Dennis confessed that he was enjoying some nice painkillers. Without segue, he told me he was a poet and that his best poem was inspired by a log church and written for a girl he dated right after his divorce.

“I had thoughts,” he said and winked. “She didn’t have those thoughts. But I had those thoughts.” This poem was meant to soften her heart.

He recited it for me line by line.

I got Dennis to tell me where the church was—the Laurel Valley Community Church on Laurel Valley Road—and I drove out to it the next day. His poem was printed in fancy script and framed inside the vestibule.

“In a mountain meadow lies an old log church
Weathered and cracked with time
And through its doors have passed
Many lovers through the ages of time
Then one day two lovers appeared and walked down its aisle
And one stopped and asked, “Will you
be mine”
While the other whispered, “Till the end
of time.”
As they knelt before the alter
Their souls became as one
For they knew their love would last forever
Beyond the ages of time.”

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