All Saints, All Souls: Notre Dame

Photo Carlos Delgado; CC-BY-SA

Lacelike in majesty, shaped by a mason’s tenderness
in Lutetian limestone, your intricate crenellations
shadows of intimacy unfurl along buttresses
foundations anchored in generations.
Solid you stand pure white in the sun
while your bells proclaim your Son’s will be done.
Monumental, your place by the Seine,
one thousand years and more you reign.
Kings, queens and paupers line your doors
some headless, some crumbling, the weather-worn flaws.
I step inside: breath of cool incense,
perfume soothes a troubled mind,
myrrh rises up the clustered columns
to soaring arches searching for light
as we do when we contemplate the prisms
the polychrome spheres of stained glass lives
Illuminating saints, and sinners redeemed,

rainbow of souls reflected on stone
on lintels and plinths, and unlived dreams
wrapped round pillars and resting on tombs
to swathe the dead and lighten those souls
unable to rest while the bell tolls.
The sun casts its fury-of-living through colour
on the life of Christ, the love and betrayal
death, resurrection, a life recovered,
portrayed in the windows, on walls and in faces,
and people stroll past from faith to unfaith
to faith recast, remembering all the
unsafe moments, discovering the
life of Christ carved in the apse
Peter stunned at the net-full of fish
Thomas turning his head in distrust,
past the confessional, silver with dust
past the candles, some lit, others waiting
you hesitate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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