MON REALE / MASON’S EUCHERIST
Tourists take photos while the faithful take communion.
The priest extends God
again and again.
within the cardboard flavoured
benediction of holy bread
reconstituted by faiths’ sanguine tongue.
The exchange of force:
the weighted wheel that rights itself
the cam shaft
the finger on the shutter button:
charged reflex of the aperture flash-writes the icons’ golden tesserae
again and again.
Monday, in the winding weekday of a suburban street:
The bread man drives a panel truck
newgreen once, now filmed with summer dust cast up from the road
innocent as the first stones that years ago
smacked off enamel chips and so
engendered oxides’ ruddy rose.
Chanting through the nasal static of a loud speaker
His rough square hands convey
in paper, through which butter has begun to soak,
delicate pastry filled with almond paste and dark chocolate
lightly dusted with powdered sugar, and then:
two swallows of thick, black coffee,
in a plastic dixie cup.
The 10 a.m. taste of salvation
again delivered to working men.
Poetry notes: When I first came to live in Italy in 2006, the second place I went was Sicily. Fortunately, all the myths that Northern Italians tell about Southern Italians were as yet unknown to me and I had dipped my feet in the river of movies and fiction in the United States much loved ‘mafia’ genre fewer times than I have toes on one foot. I went to Sicily to work on restoring a house with my now husband and one of his closest friends. The masons came to work before six and stopped for their coffee break around 10 when the ‘break truck’ came. Unlike an american ‘roach-coach’ this was an old, beat-up pick up with hot coffee and fresh pastry. One weekend we took a trip to the capital Palermo and from there spent a few hours as tourists at one of Sicily’s most famous churches: Monte Reale. While we were there as tourists a mass began. I wrote this poem with the intention of overlapping the rhythms of the religious ritual, the tourist ritual, the mason’s ritual and the ritual of enlightenment rationality that all follow their own specific mechanics and yet seem to tick along together at very similar rhythms.