After the Fire of Beauty

Yesterday Our Mother burned.

I visited this grand Dame years ago, by night,
In Nicodeman furtiveness and curiosity,
To see her standing stately by still waters
With roses in her hair.
It was near midnight
And the murmur of the city spent itself on streets surrounding
But she had no light within to share her secret charms —
Mysterious and dark against the dull glow of city lights,
She seemed to me a pensive Lady
Full of centuries of thought and love and wonder
At pain and war and rebellion
That crouches always at her knees
(She cannot comprehend such things as these)
And at her holy Father whom she serves
(She remembers Him always, and her memory is long).

Today she stands serene and still,
Wearing ash upon her face for Holy Week
And looking out at faces turned again
With tears upon their cheeks at something lost.
She smiles and knows her place.
She looks heavenward again —
Daylight touches corners of her heart
Which have known only candlelight for centuries,
And Ave Marias grace the stony streets around her
Which long have echoed only deep within.
She wonders: is this, then, a New Thing dawning,
A Promise looked-for now come true?
After the fire of beauty passes,
Does not something even lovelier appear?
She raises hands to Heaven
And bids the Easter come.

After the Fire