Sacré-Cœur at autumn time.

sacrecour

Twenty seven by ten
pale grey limestone steps.
The climb in autumn heat
sweat in unseasoned armpits.

To the summit
of the hill of martyr’s
and the sun bronzed basilica
of the silver Sacré-Cœur.

A work of art that floats in clouds
above the Pantheon.
Carved in shining stone
and the blood of brave believers,

Look back across the filth and noise
the early morning chaos,
the bitching and moaning.
An aged curmudgeon, waking irritated.

See the gifted phallic spire,
reflecting nothing of red sun
or international relations.
Dull mechanical striations

Notre Dame
with its gyre of gushing gargoyles.
Flickering Quasimodo
and the ghost of Victor Hugo.

Ahead a saint’s surplice of shade.
Dawn blue sky
and a light oil brush stroke of cloud
that cloaks the morning sun.

Silence accentuates
the cooing cacophony.
A throng of iridescent
waist-coated messengers.

Rainbow page -boys
that run in puzzle patterns
begging crumbs
from passing pilgrims.

In the shady side chapel,
day blind eyes adjust to the flare and flicker
of a thousand shimmering stars.
A galaxy of gibed intentions

Gold rising in tiers
on filmed bronze spikes
above the burning alter.
A conflagration of pilgrim prayers.

Wax melts and runs,
amorphous pulsing. Flows and folds,
heathen hunchbacks and wicked witches
bitches with no business in this hushed haven.

pyramidal hives rise to house
flaring bees that dance and fall
on fire bright, pollen loaded knees
before the burning core of Jesus.

My heathen chest abhors
the symbolism.
But the chaste catholic
buried deep, explodes.

I kneel to honour ritual.
And to steal a made-up memory
A gift to a mother
with knees worn to bone.

The flight down over Montemarte
is a spread of pinioned wings.
Drifting, descending in cool city loaded air,

The scent of the Seine,
the warm bread aroma of a nearby boulangerie,
warm chestnuts
redolent of damp broad leaf forest

Breakfast smells waft from
the orange grey ember grills
of stolid street sellers,
peddling poison and medicine along the river

We walk the pale grey ribbon.
A road from Notre Dame
to the little lady and her torch.
“Enlightenment of the world”

The wind waters my eyes
I am suffocated
by a tarnished portrait
of Paris in October.

-Dave Kavanagh

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