A Hundred Doors

God! I'm lighting candles again, still
The sentimental atheist, family
Names a kind of prayer or poem, my muse
Our Lady of a Hundred Doors.

Superivsed by a xenophobic
Sacristan, I plant in dusty sand
Names and faces that follow me
As far as windows in the floor:

Marble stumps aching through glass
For their pagan temple, the warm
Inwardness Praxiteles brought out.
The intelligence of stone.

The sacristan who picks my flame-
Flowers and blows them out, only minutes
Old, knows I am watching and he
Doesn't care as he shortens my lives.


from A Hundred Doors (Cape, 2011), © Michael Longley 2011, used by permission of the author and the publisher

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