In the Web
by Laurie Kruk
But superstition, like belief, must die,
And what remains when disbelief has gone?
—Philip Larkin, "Church Going"
Under towering November clouds
talk over the still small voice,
on mobile-wearing walks
from boulangerie to bookstore, bank to café
under empty eyes of their fourteenth-century Virgin.
Stumbling towards the Chateau
and closing time, I push through
multilingual nets of intention, racing traffic signals:
stone leviathan, centuries-old fortress
earth-mantled by moss and pigeon nests,
guards the empty moat
that once housed Duke of Anjou's deer and antelope,
ancient paths tracing this spot
now dedicated to daily auto-pilgrimage.
Dusk comes down like a portcullis
as I cross the stone bridge
to slip seven Euros in a hand
wander the graveled walks, glimpse the river's ways
and follow the signs
to the Tapestry of the Apocalypse. Lost
in the Revolution, later found warming
haunches of royal horses, or shielding
orange trees from frost,
now hung in air-conditioned shadow
for our blind gazes to slide over
minus Kodak's crutch: flash photography
forbidden, in deference to aged dyes.
Product of seven years' labour
by Bataille and de Bruges*
and an army of monks
transcendent in anonymity
who wove their faith
into stitched images of the final Uncovering,
and magnified the city of God.
Sixty-seven panels, woven witness of an era
almost as hugely absurd as the dinosaurs',
in thousands of threads, silk and wool, spinning a story
we can barely remember remembering—
instead, silicon-chip knitting of computers
to modems, to cell phones, to cameras, to the web
of videoclips or soundbytes
from sages on happiness,
prophets of global warming,
the latest televised crusades
for oil and bombs, monuments and votes.
Not this Seven-headed Beast—
Not this destruction of the City—
Not this breaking
of the Seventh Seal—
Accused by the Saint's recording quill and scroll
I buy a souvenir postcard
I cannot translate in either language,
wondering how to fill it
as I walk out into clouds of car-exhaust
today's breaths, hung on cobblestone walks
like the invisible nets of spiders
draped on moss which nibbles at the towers.
Catching the unseen drops of another day,
only these weavings will endure,
loyal not to stone, but only air
* Nicholas Bataille, master weaver. Hennequin de Bruges, painter.
This poem originally appeared in Canadian Literature #197 (Summer 2008), Predators and Gardens. (pg. 10 - 11)