Gray stone spires and brave frail leaves
Rise above flat tar roofs.
Higher still—on a train platform—I stand.
Early May. Bullied by a mean wind.
Habit or heart never fails to search
For the dome of childhood’s church
Tucked between the past and eternity.
We children swirled around like blown confetti
In white and deep blue. Every May such
Airy grace! Traffic stopped. Parents hushed
Their tongues of fire. Our twinkling hymns
Carried on the wind like Olympic flames.
* St. Francis de Sales Roman Catholic Church, founded in 1890 in what is now University City of West Philadelphia, is a rare example of Byzantine architecture modeled after the domed Hagia Sophia of Istanbul (Constantinople). The church was one of seven, their parish schools with large enrollments, situated between Market Street and Woodland Avenue: St. James, St. Francis de Sales, Transfiguration of Our Lord, St. Carthage, Most Blessed Sacrament, Good Shepherd, and St. Clement. By the year 2010, because of declining congregations, all were closed or consolidated (with a few name changes) with neighboring parishes.