Our Lady of Lourdes

Kneeling in Church

Our Lady of Lourdes

Not far away (but far enough) from the NFL draft
knees rest from toil on things made only for them
and no other, things serving no purpose
but to receive them, to help lift ancient prayer
into the air. Introibo ad altare dei. Yet the knees
don’t move. There are no clocks, but lots of
eyes, painted in the painted heads of angels
on the ceiling, painted in the painted heads of statues,
eyes not blinking, never blinking, as committed
as oak, or marble. Secula seculorum. The old
lady in the first row, shawled, bent, her beads
the instrument of her counterpoint to hands of the priest,
conducting his symphony, harped angels invisible to the
eye, circling their painted brethren. Old Peter with his
rusted sword and keys, John, the Beloved, with his
easy belief and the Apocalypse. Judica me, Deus.
The elect ever in counterpoint. Discerne me.
Before given to America he claimed them,
the poor, the imprisoned, emotional cripples,
the old with their wizened and gnarled pickers,
the beautiful mothers who somehow escaped
The Machine, praying for their sons with Aspergers,
desperate Millenials, busted middle agers, the out of sorts,
like pants that got cut short between the
knees and the ankles, ready for the Flood:
these are my people. They don’t pull up
at 9:29 for the 9:30 Mass: they were here
way before. Ave Maria. They know what the priest
says, but they have their own rhythms and offering,
joined to his, but his is His, the supreme offering,
not theirs with their humble, though both in the ancient
tongue. Here men were created equal before
there were propertied tobacco farmers and pipe smokers.
Here the rich were usurpers, and they knew they were
usurpers. See how minds wander. Dimissis peccatis
tuis, he says. Amen. The mind wanders. It’s not
for me, but for Him. Fiat voluntas tua.
These don’t need to be willed to be here,
my people. They die outside of here by
the inch, their snail blood on the ground,
their little via dolorosa in the crevices.
And for them He died, leaving this
peace for an hour or so, cool in the
marble. Until that other sun,
relentless, watches them rise
into its shadows of hunger,
sorrow and sadness,
until they come back
and get down
again, Introibo ad altare dei,
knees to kneelers,
kneelers on
ground.

3 comments

  1. Mark,

    What a day it has been! What a beautiful close for it to see this group of poets from The Pub
    interacting again, to read a freshly made post by you, to savor it.

    “Not far away (but far enough)”

    The tone is set and from that phrase forward the poem owns the reader.

    “unto the ages of ages” a tie that binds each to each…even the NFL draft and the old lady in the front row,
    most surely the eyes, the statues and the old lady…that’s what it did for me….though I suppose that phrase
    is complete in connection to the scene on ‘the ceiling’.

    “They don’t pull up
    at 9:29 for the 9:30 Mass: they were here
    way before. Ave Maria.”

    That is the point where I quit looking up phrases and knew the soul of your Psalm.

    Okay, its probably not cool to give such a long commentary, but I have never cared one iota about being cool.

    I have to tell you when I read

    “These don’t need to be willed to be here,
    my people. They die outside of here by
    the inch, their snail blood on the ground,
    their little via dolorosa in the crevices.
    And for them He died, leaving this
    peace for an hour or so, cool in the
    marble. Until that other sun,
    relentless, watches them rise
    into its shadows of hunger,
    sorrow and sadness,
    until they come back
    and get down
    again, Introibo ad altare dei,
    knees to kneelers,
    kneelers on
    ground.”

    my knees were on the kneelers, my head was bowed.

    This poem is truly ‘forever and ever’…

    Sarah

    Like

  2. Hi Mark

    Stunning, absolutely stunning poetry. The stark /spiritual intensity in this piece vibrates from beginning to end. What struck me is not only the beautiful crafting of message but the rhythm and imagery —

    There are no clocks, but lots of
    eyes, painted in the painted heads of angels
    on the ceiling, painted in the painted heads of statues,
    eyes not blinking, never blinking, as committed
    as oak, or marble. Secula seculorum. The old
    lady in the first row, shawled, bent, her beads
    the instrument of her counterpoint to hands of the priest,
    conducting his symphony, harped angels invisible to the
    eye, circling their painted brethren. Old Peter with his
    rusted sword and keys, John, the Beloved, with his
    easy belief and the Apocalypse. Judica me, Deus.
    The elect ever in counterpoint. Discerne me.
    Before given to America he claimed them,

    In those lines one can feel the classical artistic stoicism of statues and painted scenes as well as the lifelessness in their portrayal of the faith and the devout contrasted with the old lady bent in age and praying with her beads. There is the real life blood of the church and those listed in the beautiful litany that follows . Also like the way you contrast the cool marbiled peace of the interior with the heat of the day outside where shadows of hunger linger and people rise to face their dire or poor circumstances, only driven to come in and kneel on their knees. There is the true essence of holy art, the sculpture of humanity at its best, at its humblest, at the mercy of God and Church.

    Thank you for this,
    Wendy

    Like

  3. Oh my goodness, Mark.
    There are so many delicious morsels in this poem.
    I read it several times, and each time I pull something new
    from the lines and from in between the lines.

    A pleasure as always.
    Kerri

    Like

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s