Uppsala Cathedral '92


I have no faith, yet
in this foreign church
I find solace,

I never expected
to need such a place,
but I sought it out.

A stranger to its ways,
I sit in silence, alone.
Its echoing ambience
embraces me.

City noise and bluster
muffled by centuries-old stone;
it welcomes and warms.

A refuge, I rest:
No more voices.
I can breathe here.
I can be here.

The sweet scent of smoke
and melting wax
balms and calms my quiet chaos;

soothes (for a moment)
and gives me whispered hope:
I will escape,
just not today.


Feeling fraudulent,
using others’ sacred ceremonies
for my own secular ends

I light a candle
and I grieve for you.

I say no prayers, of course.
Though, contradictory as always,
I wish someone might pray for me.

Soon, I will return home;
travel the thousand miles
from this cathedral city
to make sense of the wreckage
you’ve left behind.

For now, though, I stay.  Stuck fast
in unwilling,
unwanted exile.

Expelled by you at one remove
from an artificial Eden
of my own creation;

a future Paradise never-to-be-found
let alone lost again.
A foolish construction of my mind.


And as I watch the flame
 – one among many -
dance and dive in this ancient space

I wonder where you are right now;
and what you are doing;
and who you are with.

I know you live your own life
(your letters make this very clear),

but in some far away northern church
would you light a candle for me?

I pause.
I’m unsure:

is that a mere straightforward question
or a pitiful, pathetic plea?


Even in this healing place,
these new wounds still hurt like Hell.



◄ The Visit


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Paul Martin

Sat 2nd Jul 2022 21:55

Thank you, Carol. Much appreciated.

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Carol Congalton

Sun 26th Jun 2022 11:15

Poignant with emotion!

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