Across the transept under the stolid pillars
I see a face shimmering in the flickering candlelight
A face so near but a memory away in time
A prayerful cherished memory I brought to tears
Under the nave the first sounds of the choir gather urgencies
In a pleading vehemence to the Lord
A primal rhythmic roar of celebration ; Christmas carols;
The sacred memory is carried back on gossamer threads of time
The girls face is yours , but its you when you were twenty
And I am riveted to my pew , afraid to touch the fragile image of you
Lest it is not that like you up close.
They finish with a jolly hymn .
So jolly that the conductor wears a jovial Christmas hat;
For the last hymn
And I look across the transept
Afraid to let this image go.
But its fleeing like smoke wafting from the winter chimneys'
From the squatted houses all along the canal ,
And running to sea like the furious Corrib under Wolf Tone bridge
The face is still a cherished memory away
And I don’t know who owned that face tonight
In the shimmering in the pallid candlelight
That I sullied and brought to tears
And to its knees ,
A memory held by gossamer threads
So many failed lifetimes ago.
I couldn’t let myself see the face
Nor hear her voice , or see her smile
Just in case she was more like you than I imagined
Or even worse ; if she wasn’t like you at all.
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