Patricia Campion 

 

Morning walk through Notre Dame de Chartres

 

Like the sun
Tucked below the horizon and the tourists
Snuggled under heavy duvets
In their alcoves the statues are still asleep
Not to wake them I tiptoe
Up the porch steps gripping my backpack straps tight to
Stop the books from jiggling
The door will wince I know
It always does
The sound will reverberate
Against the tall pillars disappearing high
In the darkness that will quickly smother it
Like it will the sound of my soles on the worn stones slabs
I notice again
How the constant coolness feels
Unusually warm after my walk in the winter morning
Then I forget again I free my mind
To take in the precious moments when I can be
Alone with Our Lady before
The guides usher in their international hordes before
The shopkeepers lift their curtains and start
Peddling pious images and plastic rosaries before
The priests stride up and down the ambulatory
In search of a lone believer
Looking almost out-of-place among
The flash of cameras and the confident drone of tour leaders
For now it’s just me and
The candles and
The polished stones and
The stained glass windows the sun has not yet set ablaze
I lift my head towards the Belle Verrière
Where Our Lady sits hugging her happy child
Draped in blue linens that glow even in the half-light
She smiles back
Remote peaceful
She has had centuries to perfect
The art of being alone while surrounded
She knows I didn’t come here to pray
I don’t know how
She nods all the same and
I carry her glow with me
All around the gothic choir whose blackened statues
Give it the feel of a silent movie
And down the aisle to the Western porch
Where I brace myself and open the door for the final stretch
To the blind stucco wall fifty yards ahead
Where teenagers swarm around the narrow wooden door before
The bell rings


 

 

 

Ghosts of the Altiplano

 

The long-awaited Andean magic
Failed to manifest in Tiwanaku’s
Neglected remainders of archaic
Glory, its empty aisles and felled statues.
Undeterred, I followed peasants’ tales
To two millenary huts resting on
The Altiplano’s edge like fallen pale
Halves of a powdery sun plucked from
The too-near sky. In these wrinkled domes
I asked the shadows, “Have I arrived home?”
My question echoed and bounced in thin air.
I heard the reeds on Titicaca’s shore
Whisper the answer to the wind in
Their long-forgotten tongue, bewitching.

 

 

 


The Shaman, Shape-Shifting

 

Thick as molasses is the night when the jaguar-man receives his cue
From a fistful of stars strewn across the tropical sky. His true
Self springs from the fire of palm straw
Where buried he lay. All claws out, he repeats the immutable law.
Tomorrow the tribe heads for the lake.
Tomorrow when the Gods are awake.
Alone he will enter the river and on the raft Velocity
Carry their gifts. Now with jaguar ferocity
In complex
Steps, throwing up flecks
Of light from the ambers, shoo, shoo,
To notify the Gods he dances his elaborate cue.
Yes, he will bring them emeralds and gold in heaps.
Yes, he promises with every leap.

 

 

 

 

A native of Chartres, France, Patricia Campion lives and works in the Tampa Bay area. She travels frequently to Latin America, where she often finds inspiration. Her poetry and non-fiction have been published in The Sandhill Review, Three Line Poetry, and other magazines.