I should be listening but only hear
the songs reverberating in this air
held still by wide rose windows, while the sun
is transformed through dyed glass. No shadows curve
their movements in this artificial light
whose hidden figurings remind us hands

worked to obscure their circuitry. I read
the hymnal, hoping there may be some psalm
I haven’t heard, some vision of the lost,
some treatment of an arbitrary theme
in new translation, but imperatives
of movement make the search impossible

and I must turn again to wondering
how craftsmen planed the finished symmetry
of marble columns. Did they mount the stone
in sections onto something like a lathe
or did they simply measure it to round
then cut the flutes. With what? A rondel blade?

How could they make the indentations smooth
and even as they did? What if the veins
were hidden, and their work revealed flaws?
The choir starts again. It’s why I’m here
and I’m soon lost in analyzing tones
for blend or harmonies of graceful sound.


There are no strange ingredients—it’s flame
that changes a coarse metal into gold
or changes us, and rows of summer grass
scythed and abandoned, burn, without the wind
or any indication of a hand—
the patterns of the fires’ tongues must change

and we, transfixed by mysteries of light
are forced to stare at this intensity
of loss, as Orpheus, at the cave’s mouth
could not resist a glance. Extended arms
backlit by flame and darkened by its smoke
transformed his song, whose complex elements

were never written down. But still we search
within our shadowed passions for a list
forgetting what those flames consume, that eyes
can only see because all matter burns,
and that reflections of our images
on irises are backlit by those arms.