James Ragan ~ The Tombs of Pechora

The Russian monk reminds us with our first step down,
that in procession each cavern is a burial of light.
Beneath our feet the cinder wax surrounds
the carvings of our passage into blindness. We create

our faith through loss of vision or in words we fail
each day to resurrect. In his litany of saints,
a thousand monks, box on box, tossed in shale
to shore a fortress, molder in their moats of silence.

In their caves beneath the sallows of St. Nicholas,
blindworms swell in rain to cross their borders;
a poet carrying lilies to Carmelius
hears the chanting in his candle’s flar and flicker.

Each bulb of light beheaded pays for God’s sedition.
Skulls, like crowns of state, pass blindly in succession.

 

James Ragan is the author of In the Talking Hours, Womb-Weary, The Hunger Wall, and Lusions. His poetry is also included in A Century of Recorded Poetry from Rhino Records. He has recently retired as director of the Graduate Professional Writing Program at the University of Southern California. Buzz magazine has called him “one of the 100 coolest people in Los Angeles: Those who make a difference.”
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