Yes you said, but what would you select? Name one.
Not the Narbonne Arch of fantastical mystical beasts
Not that manticore's scorpion tail, nor the pelican's beak
Not the basilisk's glowing eyes, nor the harpy's talon
Not the griffin's wings, nor the amphisbaena's fangs
Not the centaur's blond mane, nor the lion's gilt crown
Yes you said, but they are all of stone, and you imagine.
Not the former Carmelite church's stained glass saints
Not Catherine's wheel and sword, nor Dorothea's roses
Not Barbara's tower, Servatius' key, nor Mary's corn robe
Yes you said, but they are in someone else's heaven.
Not in quatrefoil roundels with their four leafed scenes
Not the knave stealing food, nor the baker and his loaves
Not the knight in tournament, nor the masquerade garb
Yes you said, but those are people, that is satire.
Not in nimbus, not in halo, nor the almond mandorla
Not in heraldic motifs, not garter, thistle, or fleur-de-lis
Yes you said, but you cannot name a symbol a design.
Not in plate or ewer, cruet or chalice, paten, beaker, straw
Not in brooch, not in clasp, not in cross or crosier shaft
Not the aquamanile in the form of a dragon or a cock
Yes you said, but those are things made of or gilt in gold.
Not the Paschal candlestick, not the altar or credenza
Not the ivory reliquary carvings, nor the narwal tusk
Not the playing card suits: collar, horn, tether and noose
Yes yes, you said, I want those playing cards too.
Not the unicorn tapestries' millefleurs backgrounds
Not the dogs, not the finches, not the fountain or horn
Not the lance, brocade, not the velvet, leather or fur
Not the fence or collar, nor the initials A and E
Yes yes, you said, which is to say, not the thread.
Not even the sun square in the arid Saint Guilhem court
Yes you said, then where? Then what? You must choose.
Not Wordsworth's daffodil, not St. John's Wort where light
seeps through windowed leaves, but there in the Bonnefont
herb garden, the single corona of the Narcissis poeticus.
Yes you said, and this is what, how you choose?
Though my namesake's white petals would put
the lily to shame, and its corona's red bled edge
pricks far worse than any thorny rose, no other
color comes closest to the Cloisters in my head.
Author Discusses Poems