Morning in Paris

Enraptured, I clamber down to the medieval alley

snug against Notre Dame’s belly. Radiantly adorned

angels in diaphanous gowns sing, “Alleluia,” hitting

high notes as the cock crows, the gargoyle groans,

and the day begins: a flawless design on a glass darkly.

I am a pilgrim without a staff, without a map, with no

painted path before me, no signs of entry or regret,

no ushers exiting me on my seat – or worse. How

can the City of Light breed such gloom? Sooty swirls

stain buttresses, cirrus clouds of smoke. O how Our Lady burns!

Rose windows usher in rays of light, eternity, hope.

The mason’s chisel disrupts the monotony of thought.

Morning prayers, the sign of the Cross. Loiter till vespers,

inhale the pungent incense, irreverently unsweet, swung

for the divine, an aroma of supplication, atonement, union.

Ecce Deus. We behold God in the unswept shadows, hidden

in his usurping splendor. Or is it the trembling aura of the world?

Still, he beseeches, extending the lover’s touch so that like becomes like:

creature suckled by the Creator. Invisibility weighing like a wet tunic,

protection from the deluge. Now l’Etre, now le néant, now la gloire.

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