Garnet gleam and well-deep blue—
thorn-kissed blood on each thick pane,
a story leaded and stained.
The feathered gold frescoes are burden;
our art betrays.

Would you sit here in silence and do nothing
but note the design? I have
glimpsed arches contracting
as though choreographed, supine
movements centuries old and timed.

This is the house that God built—
a layer cake of death and resurrection:

crypt nave tower.

Rooms large enough to hold sister sin,
such a beautiful bride. Take her satin train,
and all her pretty maids, amethyst organza-dripping
down the aisle past perfectly straight
pew soldiers. And then you’ll kneel
and open your mouth to God,
pray in your black orchid tongue.


It was like that,
in the cathedral night,
lighting candles cradled
in Dixie cups of sand.
We turned,
we greeted each other:
Peace be with you.
I believed in
the cloistered silence,
the careful, baying Latin.
When the stained roses
flickered in liquid amber,
the way
we were together
was religious. Intensified
beside her, I was a blessed
child with voice
and vision.

all sinew and stretch,
my arm small and smooth
against hers. The hand we share—
hers aging and the color
of cut fruit left out in air,
mine, chubby and fumbling,
golden in the fire’s glow;
mine now, hers then,
the bagging knuckle skin and
carefully kept nails.
We touch match to wick
in the jewel-hued votive
and light lives.


For questions or comments, please contact Jen Rouse