A child sees inside the stained-glass window
the pride of the garden that came before
the hand that raised this smoke, this corpse, this rose.
His mother signals him to pray with those
who come to kneel beneath the candle fire.
The child sees inside their stained-glass window
the petals of the wound that cannot close,
the eye that watches from the atmosphere
the hands that raise this smoke. This force that grows
against the lighted surface here below
presses through his forehead like a fever.
The child sees inside the stained-glass window
a passage from the boredom, the gore, the clothes
that pinch, the goaty voice inside the rafters,
the hands of praise. This smoke, this corpse, this rose,
what are they to him now. What does he know
of a mother’s doubt, her ecstasy, her fear.
What child sees inside the stained-glass window
the man that gave this smoke this corpse, and rose.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.