Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Gargoyle of Notre Dame

They put me here
to protect Our Lady.
To keep a beady eye out
for scoundrels, evil spirits.
Those medieval minds
unsurpassable in superstition.

Contrary to popular opinion
I am not the devil's wingman -
grotesque as I may seem.
I am a keeper of safety,
guardian of sanctuary.
The cathedral's secret security.
to ward off danger or enmity
(the water spout is just an excuse.)

Centuries pass and I, in my cement state
am pressed to observe.
Look how I slump and slouch.
It's boring being a stone look-out.

I have watched this city 
full of beauty and fierceness for too long.
Remember 1789?
I couldn't count
the heads that rolled by.
And the 1800s...the tricoleres, canon fire,
that small wiry guy
intent on pomp and glory,
the buildings fallen around me.
And then the Germans.


But she stood despite it all. 
Here was the heart that harboured
the lost in her forest of faith.
(Not to mention a lovable, malformed, wretch.) 
Cherry blossom shade, rose window blessings.

On the banks of the Seine, a place to rest,
space to lessen the grief of the ages.  
City of light, city of sin. 
Ile de la cite -
this one beautiful thing.


Now a fire rages behind me and she burns.
Mon Dieu!
I am powerless to stop it. I weep with you. 
But in the embers, solace abounds. Proof
that people still care 

about beauty 
even now.

What to do?
Light a candle, begin, believe again. 
Don't make a stone of the soul, 
like me.
Isn't that everything
here on earth?


© Siobhán Mc Laughlin

Notre Dame's gargoyles protected the iconic Cathedral, and the city of Paris, for centuries

Siobhan is currently taking part in NaPoWriMo poem a day challenge. Twitter: @siobhan347