Tuesday, September 8, 2015

All Saints

A stone church tough as a knuckle.
Squat in the eloquent sunlight,
its tower thumbs the ether
with insolence. The transept
hunkers like a big-shouldered toad,
the slate roof shines with confidence,
the apse is the rump of a dwarf.

The famous architect enlisted
to plan this monument suffered
over drawings, and coughed a cough
that blazed with a rapt blue flame.
Now in the late summer glare
the intersecting lines hurt me,
hurt my disbelief the way shame
hurts the average child, the one
who’s halfway dutiful at school
but skimps on his chores at home.

Walking around the church,
beginning on the shady north side
where an abstract garden sculpture
prods and deflates the humid air,
I keep a safe distance from the faux
medieval bulk, more Romanesque
than Gothic. The colonnade loggia
shelters two rectangular windows.
Elsewhere, narrow pointed tracery
stained-glass lights, heavily framed,
rebut the slightest glimpse inside.

The curved but featureless rear
offers no grip on the cosmos,
so I proceed to the sunny view
from the south. Now the whole church
looks feline, crouched and alert
for curious, faithless souls like me.
I won’t tempt its great appetite                           
by stepping into the gloomy nave.                                      
With a wave and hello to the priest,
or priestess, trim in blue linen,
I dodge past the buttressed fa├žade
with its tomblike entry and skip
down the walk, across the highway.
But I still feel the breath of hymnals
breezing after me, brown tones
eager to enlist my scratchy tenor
in homage to the grave unknown.

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