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A Capella

In a place where words cease to exist
where days hang listless like doldrums
I wither in the blistering mirage of summer
without a syllable to quench my thirst


From forth the desert
a Mexican town appears
melting into the sandy foreground
of a parched heat wave
where even the slimmest fragments
of phrases creep under doorways
pursued by the sun

I step into the silence
search for inhabitants
but none are to be seen

And then, folded into the hush
a little church offers harbor from the heat
I go inside,
its pews creak with dust of time
and there, bent between its wooden benches
a woman kneels, clutching a rosary
softly chanting the Lord’s Prayer
a capella
again and again and yet again


Speechless, I kneel too
and listen

And suddenly as the unaccompanied music
of her prayer rises to the rafters
drenching my page with waterfalls of penitence
a cloud of birds rise from some
hidden nesting place close by the altar
and uttering coarse cries
flutter towards the stained glass windows

as the empty nave answers her
in a tumult of beaks and wings
amen, amen and amen again

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© Johnmichael Simon



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