IN SUNLIGHT, IN A BEAUTIFUL GARDEN


(The Cloisters, Upper Manhattan, May)

 

This capital I’m gazing at

resolves into a cat-faced Devil --

he’s just swallowed a soul.

His thin smile spans a limestone block

where frog-eyed minions prod roped sinners

towards roaring flames of Hell.

One’s upside down -- kicked shanks trail

round the corner, ready to be hurled.

 

Meanwhile a medieval square of  

daffodils and gentians bobs

softly in a breeze that brushes

their living carpet, sighing

through potted orange trees

and sun-splashed colonnades.

 

Ease, buttressed by sandstone

certainty:  a riot of petaled

flares and stars where terrors

of Below are checked by chiseled

images -- Its snarling beasts

faith-tamed.  Watching streaked sparrows

 

twitter down to sip at fountains

salvaged from ruined convents at Bonnefont

or Cux, I finish off my baguette crust

and contemplate grave courtesies

that nodding lavender and rose

still offer up in stained-glass hues,

defying these less hallowed times

upon their sward of grass.

 


First published in What Rough Beast (June 12, 2019)