To celebrate the forthcoming publication of my husband Eric D. Lehman‘s novella Shadows of Paris, I’m posting this poem, not of Paris exactly, but when you read Shadows, you’ll know why this poem makes sense. The characters in his beautifully crafted story also “know something of transformation,” but that’s all I’ll say. You should discover it for yourself. Make your pilgrimage to Homebound Publications and buy your copy. Click again to get Lune de Miel, where this poem first appeared.
Pilgrim at Auvers
The pigeons at L’eglise Notre Dame know something
of transformation. White broods in a sky that has forgotten
color and the silhouette of clouds. A quiet stroll
through narrow, charcoal streets led me here,
up ancient stone steps to the church where Vincent
van Gogh saw blue-black sky churn in flight around
the toasted edifice. The flock perches until the hint
of something migratory and innate calls them to stir;
in hues of gray they erupt in a smooth arc, returning
to roost on the slants of the high, tilted steeple.
Winter weighs endurance and transition as stone erodes
to dust, leaves compost to mud, and summer flowers
that steadily surveyed August afternoons convert
to dried stalks in frozen dirt. Pilgrims, too, know of shifts
and I walk into the warm and lonely church to wait
for language to come again to my cold lips.
Fifteen hundred hours toll from the bell tower,
a grave listens at the top of the hill, and a downcast sun
aches to paint maize onto the bare winter scroll.
Giving up the shell can be hard, but so worth it. After nomading, we find home.
Naked, the crab forgets
his hermit ways, creeping
in the oyster underworld,
brushing against minnow fins
and ugly red claws, until
nomading ends, and a home,
spiraled in calcium, appears.
A watery cosmos of green
awaits the refugee shell;
the sea is populated
by old dwellings, discarded
by molting crustaceans, spit out
for sand diggers and souvenir
hunters, strangled by a scarf
of seaweed or broken
with gravity’s axe, swung
by the long hand of the moon.
From Nomad’s End, 2010 Finishing Line Press