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Portugal visto por escritores estrangeiros

At the Ruins of the Carmo Monastery, Lisbon

by Kathleen Willard


Perhaps all churches should remain open to the heavens

and unroofed embracing elements, the swifts

flitting through transepts and naves,

and all who enter regard an ocean of sky,

the rain, an array of clouds

as the baptismal font, one station of the cross,

caravels sailing on stone recede insignificant

to the blue, blue sky. Devout

tourists limp through heavy heat,

their cameras flashing like lightning.

 

Enter schoolchildren on a field trip

visiting archeological items housed in the unscathed chancel.

Stalled behind the glass door like enthusiastic sheep,

their teachers trying to quiet them,

an impossible task, girls echo hushing the boys.

The class disperses

humming like a hive of bees. Someone

 

has found the two mummies from Peru,

two leathery children safe behind a box of glass

bounty of expeditions to the New World. Now others

stampede to share their discovery shocked by skin

still intact over delicate bones, the boy’s teeth immobilized

into an eternal smile, the girl’s tomboy hair unkempt

scattershot past her shoulders. They look away

when they realize the mummified children

were their age and tied up with ropes.

 

Who tucked their knees under their chins?

Who wrapped their arms around their knees?

Who bound them with such skillful knots?   

And, why, why take them so far from their home?

by Kathleen Willard


Kathleen Willard, MA Middlebury College, MFA Colorado State University, remembers her attendance at The Disquiet International Literary Program as a defining moment in her writing life.  Forty of her poems have appeared in  literary magazines and anthologies including: Bombay Gin, Matter, Proud to Be, and Landscape and Place. Her awards include a Fulbright-Hays Fellowship to travel and write in India, attendance at Vermont Studio Center twice, the Breadloaf Writer’s Conference twice, and her poem “Theory of Flight, Circa 1704” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, published in The Progenitor and won the ACC Writer's Studio Prize
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