The empty cathedral reminds me of you—
memory flares, a match struck in blackness—
our old song, the late monks’ psalms, click
of a latch: the Middle Ages closed.
Centuries later, the church’s courtyard
caged the Germans’ prisoners of war,
gate patrolled by their youngest general,
glossy gun by his side. Now
an archive, the building implies
the past can be known
through yellowing papers—as if a heart
could break and break
and live to tell the tale.
A soft rain falls where the bodies were found.
And you, your letters are buried beneath them.
Black earth and ink. History’s compost.
This appeared in the December 2011 issue.