The Hearth of Paris

Notre Dame, Paris, by David Roberts.

18 April 2019

By Philip Kuepper

How like a hearth of light that splendid
Gothic ship moored in the Seine,
taking on millions of passengers
through eight hundred years,
setting alight a taper in each of their hearts,
to carry forth into our oft dark world.

But now I imagine putti flying to tell her,
as she sits embroidering the vast cloth
of intercessions, of the terrible
fire consuming Notre Dame.
I imagine her needles pausing
mid-intercession, and beginning
to embroider the phrase, “sic transit gloria mundi,”
even the glory of her own earthly house,
its two magnificent roses, eyes,
seeing with celestial sight,
eyes, now, bloodshot, enflamed.

The light, become savage, has turned on the ship,
fire consuming fire,
fire, frenzied, trapped,
fire exploding over the flying
buttresses, fire roaring red,
wounded, up the lace-like tower,
fire falling over fire,
a stampede of flames
over-running all in their path.

Then all goes black.  The fire goes out.
All stands charred, a hearth of darkness,
save faintly glowing embers,
here and there,
like little eyes opening,
orbs of new light,
seeing an even finer ship being
launched, its anchor, again, the Heart
of Compassion.

(15 April 2019)

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