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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