Questions of architecture.

Millions of tons of stone to house the faithful.

For some, this was enough of a reason to join.

Over three centuries of construction, here’s enough stone to make a mountain range.

Each could contain an entire town, plus pilgrims.

There was much to be purchased at church, from precious stones to hens.

You don’t complete construction unless the money flows, and most didn’t.

The purchase of pardons was lucrative, but only if the townspeople had purchased the right to grant indulgences. 

Where to find materials? You can start with the bodies of ancient towns.

The builders are cloaked in an aura of mystery, each part magician, part alchemist.

The poet, considering, asks, what is an architect?

One who makes plans.

Which raises the question, which ones go missing and when does this matter?

Which has more secrets––alchemy, or chemistry? 

Neither approaches the culinary arts. Consider the kitchen secrets of these builders.

How one stone differs from another, which mortar to make where. And when, and why.

Perhaps the builders had a secret code, perhaps they followed the intuitive logic of honeycombs.

See a Holy Land in any direction, each an adventure. Choose.

The poet considers, how can the sculptor of an angel’s smile use the same hand to shape cannonballs?

Some questions remain even after the plans are long gone.


Inspired while reading Zbigniew Herbert’s essay, “A Stone from the Cathedral” from Barbarian in the Garden(trans. Michael March). The above uses ideas and phrases from Herbert’s essay with no claim of translating original intent.