magic catholicism

statue of a portuguese general©papa osmubal

statue of a portuguese general©papa osmubal


magic catholicism
barbara rendall


They hauled it all in ships, around the Horn,
Those bearded Portuguese, all the terrors
And wonders of my childhood; it’s all here,
Every bit of it, the same high banks
Of feverish candles, the hot-wax smell
Hanging like a heavy velvet curtain I lift again
On all those sacred things that brim with mystery–

Slivers of wood and bone and scraps of cloth
Sealed under glass before they burst
With the density of their meaning;
The rituals, rules, the lessons in stone
So burning and sure and delectably flawed;
The romance of stricture and terror and guilt.

Yet how lucky, really,
What a marvelous, difficult blessing–
To have known and mastered all this,
Like learning a complex tongue at an early age–
To be a medieval survivor,
Muck and magic clinging to my cloak,
A drinker of blood and eater of flesh, schooled in miracles,
Eager and able to admit the possibility
Of nearly anything wonderful or terrible enough,

Having had as an intimate mentor so long ago
The secret source, this force of metaphor,
Behind the deep-carved stone, the fretted woodwork,
Like a hidden spring.


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