Tiller’s Grace


At the edge of childhood

and edge of wood,

I have not found God

in his usual place.

In spired cathedrals

with their waxed benches and bound hymns,

the Irish priest casts heavy lines

that boom from the pulpit and fall

to my heart

without a hint of song.

He says, “be with you”

I hear “bewitch you.”

God is gone from here.


Lying on a mossy bed

dreaming of ancestral voices,

I mistake the old caretaker’s steps

for those of my Father’s.

“It’s only me,” he reassures.

“They’ve all gone off to the pub.”

I am too young to slip there unnoticed

to hear the tales and melodies

of those battered by drink

but delivered from sin,

dancing the jig of grace.

The caretaker hands me

a child-sized spade

and points to the yard

at the back of the house.

“There’s treasure in there,

cross my old heart,

but you’ll be wantin’ to dig real deep.”

 © 2015, Ellen Rowland


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