Cloitre St. Merri

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“Never doubt in the dark, what God has told you in the light.”

 -V. Raymond Edman

I couldn’t see her…she was standing just out of view.

It was a popular spot, in front of a gothic church, which was now hemmed on all sides by buildings erected in the centuries since. My view was of the slate rooftop…and weather worn gargoyles covered in four hundred years of pigeon droppings. Some of the dragons of hell had worn to stubs of stone in the prolonged washings of acid rain. I lived on the top floor of a former convent, now turned to apartments…with only a slight haunting left in the walls, from the wives of Christ.

Her voice echoed through the stone street…ethereal and mysterious. I tried to imagine what she looked like, standing, with some small box at her feet…collecting francs for the privilege of hearing her.

So, I conjured a face to fit the voice…with soulful eyes, betraying the death of innocence, and the painful endurance of longing. Behind these plaintive tones, there needed to be a history of heartache…one doesn’t choose those songs, or sing with that kind of pathos, and have a life of joyful ease. The mouth must be supple, with a wistful smile, and flushed with sudden pouts of emotion to convey the depth of loss. Her head would lift slightly, half in reverence and half complaint. The hair must fall…just so…in counterpoint to the lulling melody…and move in cadence to the rise of her breast as she breathed her poems of life gone by. The hands would be lifted…separately…in prayerful supplication…as if receiving the transmission of grace which she then broadcast to the rooftops.

She sang of the coldness of the world and the fickleness of love, long stanzas of struggle; sweet refrains of sorrow: the angst and beauty of medieval French. The words turned and floated into the air between us…seeking me out. My twilight flitted between rapt attention to her song of love, and the ridiculous pigeons sitting on the spires. They would rise, to strut back and forth, as if they too, were moved to restless pacing by the otherworldly sound, and needed to dance their silly dance: “to the end of day”.

We shared a life in minutes, she and I…a flawless, trail of seconds. We grew old and weary together, with her voice in my ear.

I didn’t speak to her then, and never watched her walk away, nor did I comfort her pains or further her pleasures…we lived and died apart.

I only listened to her song.

And that is what I heard…as the sky turned to silver.


~ by theoxherd on May 5, 2013.

3 Responses to “Cloitre St. Merri”

  1. Gorgeous writing.

  2. Once again a graphic and quote that are both out of a rare left field, and yet fit your story. What is the graphic?

    I liked the story concept and some of your phrasing is really a hammer on glass:
    “..from the wives of Christ”
    “…as if receiving the transmission of grace”
    and some a sad stone:
    “…we lived and died apart.”
    Very nice.

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