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Icon of the Trinity, Andrei Rublev, Tretyakov Gallery

We had gone to Moscow on a journey
from the suburbs of Dublin
and scattered townlands of West Cork,
flying eastward into darkness,
a night of prehistoric stars,
millennia of Christianity evolved
in our names: Joseph, John, and James.
And then we came, at last, to stand
in timelessness before our heritage,
forgetful of belief and unbelief.
We had the icon to ourselves,
like three angels, invisible, or making
the crowds in the gallery invisible;
conforming to a gentle communion,
sharing thoughts, bits of knowledge,
subsiding to color, inherent gold,
the inner circularity of the tableau,
we felt our selves dissolving…
three strangers in the desert of Mamre,
sharing the freedom of wanderers
rejoicing in the chance events
and small miracles of life—
an oak tree spreading out its shade,
a little water, morsels of bread—
and snatches of words and sounds
that stir to life the unpredictable:
the whispers of Abraham at his tent,
Sarah’s mocking gasp of laughter—
the prospect of a birth,
two becoming three,
three becoming one.

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