Churches explores the way our experience of the world is shaped through the stories we tell about ourselves. These poems braid multiple narratives that often take place in different times, or are seen through the eyes of various speakers. Here, Prufer explores the interior and subjective nature of time as he engages with mortality, both as a cultural construct and a deeply personal, unarticulatable anxiety: “In this filtered light, / my brain is a nimbler thing, and strange. It loves / the slow derangements distance brings.”
“Poetry,” from Churches:
That car was burning. Are there any questions? It rested on its roof, flipped. Are there any questions? The windshield had scattered its pointed little thoughts over the pavement. Hello? The wheels were muscle only and knew little, spinning pointlessly against the air. The radio glowed like my heart, and it sang like my heart. Even now, the man inside tries not to sleep. Anyone? How darkness makes beautiful the same fire daylight ignores. How that queer flower blooms best at night. I saw the whole thing. Here I am. Up here.
It’s a rickety balcony I’m standing on. Then the car crash turned the houselights on, so there you all are gathered at your windows. The ambulance purred to a stop, its great red heart flashing over the houses. It warms the skin, and when I move, the planks below me want to break– Won’t you cut his seatbelt with those clippers? Won’t you haul him out so I can see? –then down I’ll fall past my neighbors’ windows, down I’ll tumble to where the car is burning, to where that man sleeps inside it and the column of smoke is invisible in the night and you won’t notice my descent, no, you won’t cry out, you won’t turn and gather around me, you won’t ask me any questions at all.