With angel’s wings and brutish-human form,
Weathered with centuries of sun and storm,
He crouches yonder on the gallery wall,
Monstrous, superb, indifferent, cynical:
And all the pulse of Paris cannot stir
Her one immutable philosopher.
………………..~ Edmund Kemper Broadus, “A Gargoyle on Notre Dame”
Tuesday afternoon, sunny and warmer, 64 degrees.
Did I tell you that it snowed for a few minutes yesterday? Snowflakes in April on tax day. How fitting. It was cold yesterday.
I still have Notre-Dame on the brain, so I thought that I’d share some historic images of the cathedral from the 1800s. Thinking of Notre-Dame reminds me of Raymond Carver’s short story “Cathedral,” a favorite of mine that I used to teach in American Literature classes. If you haven’t read it, you can find it here.
Today is a Two for Tuesday, but the theme is kind of murkier: the mind as a personal cathedral.
More later. Peace.
The man in the yellow hard hat,
the one with the mask
across his nose and mouth,
pulls the lever that turns
the great arm of the crane up
and over and sideways
toward the earth;
then the wrecking ball
so delicately, like a silver fob
loosened from a waistcoat pocket:
shocking to see
the dust fly up and the timber
sail up, then so slowly
down, how the summer air
bristles with a hundred splinters
and the smallest is a splintered flame,
for it takes so many lengthening
erratic movements to tear away
what stands between the sidewalk
and the bell tower,
where the pigeons now rise
in grand indignant waves
at such poor timing, such
a deaf ear toward the music;
in this way the silence
between hand and lever is turned
into a ragged and sorely lifted
wing: the wrecking ball lurches
in a narrowing arc until only
the dust resists—the rest
comes down, story by story,
and is hauled off in flatbed trucks.
Meanwhile the pedestrians come
and go, now and then glancing
at their accurate watches.
Gradually, the dust
becomes the rose light
But one evening a woman
loses her way as she’s
swept into a passing wave
of commuters and she
looks up toward the perfectly
now hanging between
the rutted mud and the sky.
There along the sides
of the adjacent building,
like a set for a simple
elementary school play,
like the gestures of the dead
in her children’s faces,
she sees the flowered paper
of her parents’ bedroom,
the pink stripes leading
up the stairs to the attic,
and the outline of the claw-
footed bathtub, font
of the lost cathedral of childhood.
~ Susan Stewart
Explication of an Imaginary Text
Salt is pity, brooms are fury,
The waterclock stands for primordial harmony.
The spruce forest, which is said to be
Like a cathedral
Indicates proliferation of desire.
The real meaning of the beginning
Will not become clear until later, if ever.
Things no longer being what they were,
Artifice poses as process,
The voice is tinged with melancholy.
The teacup, the brass knuckles, and the pearl-handled razor
As if to say
That half the wind is in the mind
And half in the mind of the wind.
Speaking through the character
Who comes to faith on his deathbed,
The author makes apology
For saying things he didn’t mean.
Little girl-cousins with ribbons in their hair
Confuse him with their names and are carried away
By laughter. Thus,
The force of love comes from belief,
Hate is from lack of doubt.
Paradox by paradox the narrative proceeds
Until half the stars are absolute tears.
The other half are mirrors.
~ James Galvin
Continue to be in a blues mood. Music by Gary B.B. Coleman, “The Sky is Crying”