The orange-bright light at sunset
paints the west-facing stones golden
under the deeper hues of a dome
that seems suspended on this fire.
A flight of birds—wordless, timeless—
writes a cluster of purple shadows,
fleeting images on the curving wall,
silencing the loud evening streets,
for now profane noises hush themselves
before the memory of chants echoing
through vaulted spaces, cut by shafts of light,
where dust floats like countless ancient prayers.
Transfixed by form and image, caught
by blinding light at sunset that soon enough
will fade and lose its power, yet we stand, for now,
silent before what passes still for miracle.
We might be anywhere beyond our
common town in ordinary time, might be
in a dream of Eastern majesty and dying light
of forgotten empires and patriarchs,
might be, as well, in spaces ruined long before
our eyes could see such craft or know
such mysteries as light that touches stones
to momentary gold, or birds that pray with shadows.
Weightless stones, floating in the light,
and heavy-voiced chant, suspended in golden air,
hold time still and gravity at bay so eye and ear
behold the simple revelations of the sense.
We will wake, of course, from this as well,
wake to all the devilish detailed annoyance
of a daily life, but this moment still
can save us from our tumbling rush
of worn-out care and passionate distortion,
save us in memory of bright seconds
fleeting through the sunset, like bird shadows,
light-painted stones, and voices hushed and holy.
Vincent Casaregola is a Professor of English and Film Studies at Saint Louis University, where he is now Director of Film Studies and also teaches American literature, creative writing, and rhetorical studies. He has published poetry in a number of journals, most recently in The Examined Life, Natural Bridge, and War, Literature, and the Arts.