After Hieronymus Bosch, perhaps.

Issue EightIssue Eight PoetryPoetry

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by Peter Boyle.


Saint Germain des près, St Martins in the Fields —

what are so many churches doing in the meadows?

Why are they floating past gazing at

the industrious fieldmice? All those golden doorways

and stained glass angels spinning slowly

over green ponds where frogs fall asleep.

And the angelus bells sail ahead of

the invisible celebrants while a lone harpist

takes up her position in the abandoned

bell tower. As these empty church frames

tack and veer in the long aisles of fields

only the music remains to speak

of divinity. And suddenly we’re aware

that these are not fields any more

but criss-crossing trenches of wire,

of explosives. And the churches

look more like tall white warehouses

for the dead. But the rain

taps out its own endlessly varying

symphony. It knows how to outlive. While far off

in the tundra they’re building transmission towers

for whatever messages still come in

from the spaces between stars.