Notre-Dame (de Longueville)

A dead man bolted to a daed tree is
lodged like a bone in the throat of Notre Dame.

A tongue flickering in a lamp cannot be suppressed.

Before the burinings and conversions this choir
was a barrow where my fathes and mothers were brought
and planted like seeds in a belly.

The clerestory and blindstory were trees and each cold
intricacy, a leaf.

I forgive the bowed and kneeling patriarchs
and matriarchs separatee d by stone ribs, for they knew not
what they did or they were afraid or they did
know and are buried now in stone.

Before I left Chicago, I saw Auntie Jeanne standing
on the the corner of Irving Park and Clarendon.
A squealing bus did not disrturb her because she is dead.
Her coat was so old and her hat so ridiculous, I almost
hurried out to huddle her into my car,
but she wasn’t
watching for me, and she wasn’t
waiting for the bus like the others. She had come for her
daughter who was dying.

I have crouched in a savory cathedral like this before waiting
to be born, sipping and sleeping to the thumping
of a big bell beneath the bold
cupolas of a mother’s breasts, absorbing pink stories
from windows of flesh stretched
between ribs, woring
toward a slit at the nape of the twin towers
of her knees.

Notre-Dame (de Longueville) [#41]
© 2000 Fammerée

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Richard Fammerée

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Photograph by Susan Aurinko

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“Notre-Dame (de Longueville)” appears in Lessons of Water & Thirst,
a book of poems by Richard Fammerée.

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