Calvin Hernton Seeks to Build and Preserve a House
Where shall the monument begin
Upon what foundation
How shall the True House be erected?
Now you are going away
I will miss you, I will be lonely,
I will worry and know sleepless nights
I shall walk dark streets
Sit in darker places
And drink and brood.
After having pressed my mouth to yours
Lived each breath of your breathing
After having been told that I am loved
After having loved,
In so short a space within confines so desolate,
Now that you are leaving
I shall walk quietly into a church
Kneel there before the alter
How shall love’s monument begin?
Upon what foundation shall it be erected?
Christ died but on the third day he rose.
The True House is the Temple of God
It is built upon the foundation of the Rock.
The True Temple is the family.
Love is the rock.
The first and last, the indivisible, the
Ever prevailing, undisputable
How shall the Temple be preserved?
I have seen men curse God in God’s name.
I see a world filled with haters.
I see people dancing a dance who have forgotten the meaning, or twisted it
Beyond its Truth.
I hear confused, hopeless tongues uttering hopeful words.
How shall the Truth be preserved?
Now that you are leaving
I shall be alone.
Tell them the Temple is based upon
A solid foundation
Tell them the True House of God is created out of love and marriage!
Conceived by Children
Through the placing-on lips in nights soft as the fur of freshly born kittens
Tell them the True Temple is not an organization for the purpose of self-aggrandizement
Or national expediancy—
The family is a religious institution.
And when you depart from me, my love,
take this monument with Thee
forget not the altar, where the candle of
Resurrection flickers about the profile of my
Once erected, even then the True House
Is not so easily preserved. For
There are those, envious, begrudging,
Of the house,
unbelievers, who stand without, that
Will strive, will strike out boldly
Against the True Temple.
Those who for various and often unscrutinized motives,
Those who, while standing upon the Rock, will oppose
Those who will strive to arrest and destroy
The one Truth
The only House.
Shall I grieve?
You know grief will be mine.
You know I love you committedly and will
suffer during your absence
The True House is the True Temple
I love you
and want to marry.
The True Temple
Must be built from within
It will prevail against those who oppose
against those who offend.
It must be built on Love.
This is the way it must be erected
This is the way it begins
This is the way the family will survive
This is the monument.
“Calvin Hernton Seeks to Build and Preserve a House" from Selected Poems of Calvin C. Hernton © 2023 by Antone Hernton. Published by Wesleyan University Press. Used by permission.