Sunday, 7 June 2020

'Church on the Hill' by Kathryn Kulpa


A Friend Has Good News for You, says the broken signboard outside the Calvary United Methodist Church. The sort of steepled, boxy church you might expect to see in New England. But not like this, with a pine tree sprawled across its crumbled steps, tinged grey from drifting ash.
There’s a path leading up to it, a winding trail through the woods. Maybe it was a hikers’ church once, a place to sit and rest after a long climb.
Climate Refugees Welcome, says a sign above the door. A long banner, printed by hand. It makes me think of the news, back when there still was news, a constant crawl of panic. It was a relief when all the satellites went down, and nothing worked.
The church smells empty, like a coat closet in a closed school. And there are coats, laid out on the back rows of pews. Hooded parkas, anoraks, raincoats, child-sized coats with hoods like animal faces: pandas, sloths, foxes.
The front rows have boxes of granola bars, Pop-Tarts, jerky, but most of them are empty. There’s a clear plastic box labeled DONATIONS, filled with coins and dollar bills. No one’s taken the money.
But who would take money now? It’s the last thing anybody needs.
In the end I take nothing. I sleep inside for the first time in months and find myself missing the moon, the stars, all my planetary guides. But I’m warm and dry, and I’m grateful for that.
In the morning I’m back on my way to you.

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