THE GARGOYLES OF SAINTE-CHAPELLE
Even the king needed gargoyles to defend his chapel.
Inside, the statues of the apostles, each holding a circle with a cross,
in the upper chapel, those windows telling stories from the Bible
and then the one of the king buying the relics, which is read
in the shape of an S, and, on the west wall,
the Rose Window, which tells the story of the apocalypse,
though what we see is the living flower, the animals, the grass,
inimitable blue, and even through the dark and rain
the asymmetrical but balanced light. Outside, gargoyles
reach out from the walls, those two who look like women,
one almost a girl, known to be hideous
so they could protect the church from evil--
a few hours before, your mouth on my breast,
I thought it was another mouth I’d tried to forget,
one that set me forever apart from being human--
tell me who knows the windows best, the king in his special seat,
under the crowning of the kings of Israel,
or the gargoyles turned outward,
into the light that crowns them?
Is the soul solid, like iron?
Or is it tender and breakable, like
the wings of a moth in the beak of the owl?
I had the idea that if it happens
early enough, when the soul
is still forming
(it happened when I was getting
it’s like a leaf that is stamped
and as the leaf grows
it retains that imprint,
so that part of it is not its own.
You said, your soul is whole and clean,
but then why does it feel
like it belongs to someone else,
that child waiting quietly in bed
for him to come in and say goodnight?
Wouldn’t a real soul
have gotten up and walked out?
Into the black trees, the lake,
even if it was cold.
But like a human it craved warmth,