Notre Dame

To gamble against that grand extortionist,
Time,
as he continues his protection racket,
and to inevitably lose,
exchanging the going rate of
dust and cobwebs,
mildew and mold,
faded paint and creeping cracks,
with the punitive rate of
cinder and ash and crumbling stone
is a hard payout,
especially as beautiful stained glass
melts again into sand
which we cup futilely in our hands.
Time is not only thief,
but judge, jury, and
the repo man,
and to expect anything else
is to expect the sun to rise
at nightfall, the skies
to lay down like the oceans,
and the dead to live once again
to embrace us as in days of old.
Time is our landlord
as well as the vandal.
Criminalize the graffiti
and he becomes an arsonist—
begrudge the insatiable blackmail
and bemoan the black smoke as your
beautiful lady’s soul
wafts darkly into the heavens.
She has gone under the knife
to remove his careless scars
only to be smote by his
pendulum blade.
And yet, even as Time
ravages with his blade and his fire
we join together,
hand in hand,
to suture tightly the hemorrhaging wound
before it can bleed us dry.
Together we hold each other up
even when the world is burning down.
We cannot hope to conjure again
a cathedral from the ashes,
but we can seek sanctuary
beneath the pediment of the human heart.
Like Quasimodo in mourning
there is a beauty to be found
in so much ugliness.

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