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Cathedrals

We tent our fingers

to make a cathedral.

This is how it’s always been

done—how a whisper

between two palms

becomes an architecture

we can’t fit into

our mouths. We hear

words like nave

and remember shoveling

piles of tulips into

a burnt-out flatbed.

An old man says

cupola, and I think

of knotty loaves

of rye stacked

like cordwood

in the baker’s pantry.

I dream of a church’s

unfinished dome

squinting upward

like the battered eye-socket

of a bare-knuckle boxer.

Every dream is its own

kind of shaky cathedral—

joists and vaults bracing

it against the weight

of another morning

invoked against us.

There’s a cathedral

built from the leg bones

of draft horses and saints.

A cathedral of birds

scaffolding the sky.

A cathedral of bodies

opening to each other

on beds smooth as altars.

A cathedral of hands

unbuttoning the skin

of every prayer

within reach.

from Litany for the CityFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2012
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

Published in Poems Ryan Teitman

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