Hymn for the EA by Savannah Payne

Hymn for the EA

Four flights up to the thick third-floor heat, hazy
images, and the thought-coating, strange-
sweet smell of Old. It is a place for me
to lay down my burden and worship.

I go up there at dusk sometimes
and just sit there, exhaling
my prayer, thinking maybe if I wait
in this crumbling temple long enough,
I’ll soak up some of the secrets they left
in their desk drawers when they locked
their office doors and laughed on back
to their houses made of paper and ink.
Nothing says gospel (at least
not to me) like a curling
photo of a years-ago smile gone
purple around the edges,
a dozen pieces of McKinney
respect, or a pretty pushpin
right through Kurt Vonnegut’s heart.
Shrine to what’s good.
Yes, this is a shrine and I owe it my love.
I owe it my life, so I will dwell
in this house of the Learned
forever. Amen.

Savannah Payne (WVWC ’19) has just completed her final semester of work at Virginia Tech, where she earned an M.A. in English and was awarded the Richard Hoffman GTA Teaching Award. This year, she will begin working toward a PhD in English at Texas A&M University, where she plans to expand her master’s thesis about the intersections of gender and class in domestic spaces in 20th century American drama. She credits her academic achievements to the incredible English, gender studies, and history faculties at West Virginia Wesleyan, which gave her an excellent foundation for graduate study and professionalization. When she isn’t working on projects or teaching, Savannah loves to watch baseball and visit art museums (though not at the same time).

"Hymn for the EA" won second place in the poetry category of The Vandalia's 2021 Art & Literature Contest.