Ill-fed peasants,
ill-clothed, ill-shod,
feet numb in winter,
senses delirious in summer.
And the artisans –
rough tools,
ropes and wooden scaffolds.
And centuries crept
along with plans.
And generation to generation
endured collapses and fires,
falls and fatalities.
And the logical impossibility
of miraculous building.

At the front of the nave
a white-robed choir outnumbers
seven souls scattered
among ninety-eight pews,
a makeshift staff of gray heads
flecked with clear-eyed blonde boys
singing medieval.
The bishop’s voice –
ringing loudest – burly.

And louder than chatter
of crowds roaming the aisles,
their shorts and T-shirts,
sandals and sneakers,
backpacks like hunchbacks.
Sweating, they stop
and listen ten seconds
to the foreign sounds,
words of frank love,
notes of brittle faith,
and then are drifting
across bright tiles
painted as Eden.