Sanctuary in Gray

St Mary's of Killarney

Killarney, St Mary’s Cathedral, July 2012

In the gray-stone shelter
set into this overrunning green,
the frail wicks of candles cradle prayers.
The wind-blown blazes tear
at shadows, shattered into fragments,
toppled like pebbles on the river bottom
across this ancient stone.

And I’m thinking of loss.
And I’m thinking of God.
And I’m thinking of broken things.

An amber hue blows
down from windows shuttered
in rose, gilt, ivory,
a treasury of illumination leaking in.
Fluttering dust ignites,
a deified disintegration,
linking terror and awe and beauty
again.

And I’m thinking of love.
And I’m thinking of trust.
And I’m thinking of broken things.

Words repeat,
and forgive us our trespasses.
Words repeat,
deliver us.
This emptiness echoes with a symphony
of whispered pleas,
of strangers’ knuckles rasping against beads,
a cadence collapsing until a single voice,
hushed and fervent and shuddering, speaks,
forever and ever,
Amen.

And I’m thinking of home.
And I’m thinking of you.
And I’m thinking of broken things.


This poem was written in Summer 2012. Thanks to the editors and readers who have helped me tune this piece.

The picture you see is of the cathedral that inspired the piece. It felt inappropriate to take pictures of the interior during Evensong, so the only image I have is this one.

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