I take the same walk every morning down a town road
past fields in various stages of decay,
old barns full of junk,
a tilting silo, its rusty hoops barely holding the grey slats together.
I pass long white driveways leading to new houses
built in old woodlots or sugarbushes or pastures.
Now and then something catches me up:
a mother otter swimming circles in a pond
whistling to her capering brood,
a long milksnake basking on the blacktop,
two jade frogs crouching in a ditch–
they squeak and plop into the water when I pass,
leaving hollows in the soft mud like the imprints of fists.
One morning, it was a piece of blue
set in the wall of a barn–
the color of cold winter skies–
blue like the best stained glass,
offerings to Our Lady.
The Virgin Mary’s Jewel Box—
Henry Adams’ name for the cathedral at Chartres–
was filled to the vaulting with gems;
the darkest corners made beautiful
because that was the way She wanted it.
It was what She liked.
For a heartbeat I believed that someone
had set such a window high in the old wooden wall,
the barn a cathedral!
So, passing on a hot day, one could slip into
that deep blue shade scented with cows and hay,
sit a minute in the stillness, ask a question,
leave a scrap of something–
a fistful of red clover, a pigeon feather–
to seal a promise, keep a vow.
But it was plastic, after all,
a blue tarp stapled there
to keep out the wind and rain.
Once in a magazine, I read about
the restoration of the windows at Chartres.
People were complaining, missing the patina of dirt
that made the glass look like slides on a dark screen
instead of jewels letting in the light.
Penwood Review, 2008