Slain in the Spirit

We saw our fathers go down first,
in the aisle of the old church whose boards we carried

on our backs into the cleared field, erected
simple and whitewashed, a single steeple.

We were given the gifts of the spirit, speaking
in tongues or a touch of the healing

we brought from the chapel into the yard
where we'd lay hands on the red earth of each new grave,

lay hands on each little baby brought year after year
to the front of the church for dedication and blessing.

We sang the holy songs first from hymnals,
then the new projector rolled over

the orange carpet, wearing a line of gray
straight down the center. How we'd dance

that line, hands in the air, sweat dripping
into our stockings and then into our church shoes,

clang of cymbal and tap on the keys, pat pat of feet.
Only the best of us would meet the lord early,

would be slain in the spirit, prostrated, overcome, anointed
and prone on the floor near the water stain, near

the pocked wood pew, nearer to the adoration of the town,
of the sky. And then, how the spirit moved in us to speak

and speak, to eat the bread, drink the sweet juice decanted
into little plastic cups, to touch hands upon leaving.

Remember the Pentecost is the act of the spirit entering
the apostles, what they do with it, how far they go,

down to the floor, restored in front of the congregation,
walking home like something might be different.

Sara Moore Wagner is the recipient of a 2019 Sustainable Arts Foundation award. She is the author of the chapbook Hooked Through (Five Oaks Press, 2017). Her poetry has appeared in many journals and anthologies including Nimrod, Western Humanities Review, Tar River Poetry, Harpur Palate, Gulf Stream and Stirring, among others, and she has been nominated for a Pushcart prize, and for Best of the Net. Her poetry has also been supported by a SAFTA residency, a merit scholarship from the Juniper Institute, and a scholarship to the Palm Beach Poetry Festival as a finalist for the Thomas Lux prize. She holds a BFA from BGSU, and an MA in literature from NKU, where she currently teaches Intro to Creative Writing. She lives in Cincinnati with her filmmaker husband Jon and their children, Daisy, Vivienne, and Cohen. (

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761