Home > Poetry > Against a Kaleidoscope, 5″ x 7″
Published: Tue Jul 1 2008
Salman Toor, Fag Puddle with Candle, Shoe, and Flag (detail), 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, N.Y. Photo: Farzad Owrang.
Against a Kaleidoscope, 5″ x 7″

Formidable the way sunlight pierces
The chapel’s stained glass window all the way through
To the stained wood floor.

Hues teeth through the beveled glass,
Each pane soldered & stolid.

Color only on account of something in light’s way.

I fumbled for my camera, cursed
The bitter air its articulate surroundings, bargained
With grace that it might spend the afternoon.

There is dignity in form fashioned rough & clean.

Each picture window hallowed, imbued
With a certain solemnity,
Each a vestige of what was once thought to be holy,
What, at times, on occasion, still is.

And each contained by a structure of stone
Emptied of communal breath—
The intake of, the letting go.

There you were, silent near the rose window,
Standing slant in a pool of dappled light. Tinged.

You were tired, happy. You were watching geese flock.

I shot you when you weren’t looking.

Erin M. Bertram is the author of six chapbooks, including The Most Wild, Kindly Green (Achiote Press, 2009) and Body of Water (Thorngate Road, 2007), which received the Frank O’Hara Award. (updated 6/2009)

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