A Survivor from the Empress of Ireland
Lights a Candle During the Old Latin Mass for the Dead
Before the Main Altar at the Sanctuaire Sainte-Anne
I am still afraid of fire:
in principio erat verbum
/ in the beginning was the word.
I am still afraid of the loud voice of the match
scratching its sudden flare,
narrowing my pupils,
enlarging the whites of my eyes:
et lux in tenebris lucet
/ and light shines in darkness.
Booming and blooming,
igniting the soul’s dark night.
Voice of fire:
et Deus erat verbum
/ and the Word was God.
Flourishing to nourishment,
flames whispering on the flood:
omnia per ipsum facta sunt
/ all things were made by Him.
Wool and water,
this sodden safety blanket;
and what of the cold
plush of pliant teddy bear,
the staring eyes of the doll:
et tenebrae eam non comprehenderunt
/ and the darkness comprehended it not.
The lashes of their eyes bound
together with salt water,
they were doused in a silken mist:
hic venit in testimonium
/ this served as a witness.
Still the patterns pierce my sleep,
hauling me from my opaque dreams,
holding my wrists in this sailor’s double clasp:
non erat ille lux
/ he was not the light.
Oh! Curse these dumb waters rising!
“Not a hair on your head shall be harmed!”
hauling my sister up by her hair
only to find her staring eyes
belonging to the already dead:
et mundus eam non cognovit
/ and the world knew her not.
Night waters rising.
The moon raising
its pale thin lantern glow:
et vidimus gloriam ejus
/ and we saw His glory
upon the waters’
Comment: I searched everywhere, but I could not find a copy of my poetry book Empress of Ireland. Nor could I find a file containing the poems. Lost, I searched everywhere yet again and then, on an old USB, I found the text of the chapbook M Press of Ire. The above poem comes from that chapbook. Empress of Ireland is available on KDP / Amazon. I had forgotten how much I loved the sequence.