Vox Populi

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Michael T. Young: Cataract

It was only days before that I stood in front of Monet’s Houses of Parliament

lifted in its blue flame, burning through water, and clouds, and everything between,

a kind of healing that rises like heat when I sit quietly and remember. 


It holds me on the day news breaks of Notre Dame on fire, kindled red 

as the cataracts of Monet’s old age scorching all colors before his eyes. 

And then I remember standing in front of those old stones and feeling 


flight in them suspended above spring trees, and hearing angels sing 

not in voices but colors blossoming in a rosette burst between towers, a spire 

needling the sky, that now collapses into the smoldering skeleton, 


sending up a plume of gray. Prayers and wonder in these arches flicker 

into smoke and ash, a single, blind beating wing. Believers and atheists alike 

gather in the streets, closing their eyes—not in prayer but for the grace 


of memory to hold, a grasping at any image to keep some semblance 

from this beauty, a form to walk through, a light to see by, a way 

to recover from the wound that took the place of the angel that left us.

Copyright 2019 Michael T. Young

On 15 April 2019, a fire broke out beneath the roof of Notre-Dame Cathedral, Paris. By the time it was extinguished 15 hours later, the building’s spire and most of its roof had been destroyed and its upper walls had been severely damaged.

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