National Poetry Month Day 20: “The Mass Has Ended Go in Peace” by K.A. Hays ’03

The Mass Has Ended Go in Peace


—not in knowledge, but in calm; not in indifference,
but nearly. Under bullying fog the white houses
stand with effort on the coast, the tides teasing
the scrub blue, the land beneath hassled by waves,
drowning in salt-wine. The lichen, as scalloped and ridged
as the cliffs, breathes red and gold; its smell, like the waft
of earth to heaven, is nearly imperceptible, a touch of fish-rot
and smoke. (I asked, Lord, for stillness and lack of concern.)
The town here could be wiped clean from the land—
no streak or smear of roofs, no smudge of walls.
But the people go on painting the village white.
The weathered wood chokes on its dust; the new whiteness
laughs through fog. I asked for acceptance and got the reek
of paint and a bright house. I can see inside the house: a woman,
sweating and bent, putting away the rollers and the cans.



K. A. Hays ’03 is a poet, fiction writer, and verse translator whose work has appeared in such publications as Hudson Review, American Poetry Review, Southern Review, and the Best American Poetry series. She is the author of two books of poetry: Early Creatures, Native Gods (2012) and Dear Apocalypse (2009). Hays studied literature and writing at Bucknell, Oxford, and Brown universities, and currently lives and teaches in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.


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