Modern Gospels, 1930

Dolores Hayden Click to

dheyden-229Dolores Hayden’s poetry collections are American Yard and Nymph, Dun, and Spinner.  Her poems have appeared in The Yale Review, Southwest Review, Slate, American Scholar and Best American Poetry.  She has received awards from the Poetry Society of America and the New England Poetry Club and has been awarded fellowships from the NEA and the Guggenheim Foundation.  Her nonfiction deals with the history of the American landscape, and she is a professor at Yale University.  Her website is

The widow rocks on her worn-down porch
as Sister Aimee pipes Foursquare Gospel
on Saturday night. Sister has the spirit,

she makes you feel as clean as a wedding dress,
as modern as the Packard Gospel Car
she drives to her Angelus Temple

where twin broadcast towers
spiral up to heaven, beam
her Bridal Call straight to Iowa.

Tonight healing comes to the widow
with her hands flat on the set,
KFSG radio, radio, radio.

Sunday she heads past the weathered feed store
to the frame church with the boxy steeple
facing the dry landscape of foreclosure.

She clasps her hymn book, raises
her voice to the highest rafter,
Lord, end this weather, fix the tractor,

smite the mortgage. Amen.
After church, the blistered porch again,
the rocker, the paper, the personals

serving their meal of local woe,
“Golden oak dining set, must sell,”
“Bertha Jane, your mother still ill,”

“Lucas, fix the tent for Harry Joe.”
Harry Joe begs to wash your sins away,
baptizes next week, names the day:

“Only Known Photograph of Jesus: Will Show.”