|Detail of Bloodstone Pillars, Catedral de Ávila, Spain
I am happy that this poem will be published in the forthcoming Deep Travel anthology. A bit of backstory:
Saint Teresa of Ávila and Charles-Axel Guillaumot never met. She was a Spanish nun who lived from 1515-1582; he was a French architect who lived from 1730-1807. Each of them built and left a largely invisible legacy. Hers was a vision of the interior castle of the spirit within us. His was to save Paris from collapsing back into the quarries beneath it by building a support city belowground. Today, you can read what Teresa built with her words, and you can visit a fraction of Paris’ abandoned quarries open to the public. In the poetry collection, Hope of Stones, you are invited to enter a cross-century conversation among The Nun, The Architect, & The Poet. This poem is from that collection, which was a finalist for the Tupelo Press 2019 Dorset Prize.
Today is research day. First, The Nun’s museum.
It brims with depictions of heaven speaking
to the saint. In paintings, doves & rays of light
descend & suspend above her upturned face.
Speech ribbons unfurl toward her from angels.
The saint was known to levitate, so I half expect
the painted words to lift from their composition
& twirl about. They stay put.
Next, the Catedral
de Ávila. Here, I see the grandeur The Nun left
behind. This church was built with bloodstone—
granite shot through with iron. It looks like
history has bled across the walls. The stone came
from a nearby quarry, & I think of The Architect.
What we pull from the earth & what we do with it.
I sit a long while on a hard pew, but my most
profound thought is how best to get to the train
Time to search for gazpacho
& Rioja—things that don’t last for centuries. I keep
forgetting that in this country, I’m an outsider
trying to dine before nine.
The Nun founded
her simple convent outside the city walls.
Paris thought The Architect an outsider
for not being born in France. I am always looking
for what lies outside—even dining hours.
an open café & order wine the color of bloodstone.